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Mobility Airmen transport Black Hawk helicopters to Latvia

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

RIGA, Latvia -- Air Mobility Command C-5M Super Galaxies delivered U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters here March 1, in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Task Force Phoenix, led by the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, signifies the first rotational combat aviation brigade deployed to provide a persistent presence in Eastern Europe.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa and AMC directly support the joint and multi-national warfighting environment with air superiority, direct air operations, global air transportation and capabilities that are essential to supporting the warfighters on the ground.

One of the largest aircraft in the world, and the largest lifter in the Air Force inventory, the C-5M, provided the necessary capabilities required to bring the Black Hawks to Latvia. Capable of carrying three Black Hawk helicopters, two M1A Abrams tanks or 250,000 pounds of relief supplies, the galaxy is uniquely equipped to carry bulky combat equipment and oversized cargo in a rapid global environment.

“It’s a tremendous aircraft, and it’s crewed by the brightest and smartest young men and women our country has to offer,” Maj. Gen. Timothy Zadalis, USAFE vice commander. “The beautiful thing about the C-5M is that one day you could deliver combat airpower, and the next day you could be delivering humanitarian airlift around the world. It’s part of what we do. It’s part of our commitment to Europe, it’s part of our commitment to NATO, and it’s part of our commitment to freedom.”

In total, 85 aircraft, including CH-47 Chinooks, UH-60 Black Hawks, AH-64 Apaches, medical evacuation helicopters, as well as 2,200 Soldiers, comprise the 10th CAB deployment throughout the European theater.

“We are thrilled to welcome so many excellent American soldiers, who will serve as members of the continuing U.S. aviation presence deployed to NATO’s eastern flank in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve,” said U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Nancy Bikoff Pettit during a press event at Riga International Airport.

Zadalis added there was also a significant training aspect to the U.S. and Latvian militaries working together.

“I see nothing but an incredibly bright future for U.S. and Latvian relations because of how closely our two countries work together,” said Zadalis. “Not only the U.S. and Latvia, but Latvia within the NATO construct as well.

 “The U.S. and Latvia do a lot of training, [planning and exercises] together. It’s where we get to know each other. There is a big emphasis on joint training. When we face a crisis, you don’t want to be learning then, you want to have already practiced and trained together, and that is what we did here.”

Pettit echoed the general’s praise to the professionalism of the Airmen and Soldiers, and added that the U.S. looks forward to continuing training with the Latvians.

“This year, thousands of U.S. soldiers will rotate through Latvia to participate in exercises and trainings, building close ties with their Latvian counterparts,” Pettit said. “You can be assured that they – like all of us here – are committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with our Latvian allies to protect the independence, sovereignty, and security of Latvia.”

In addition to the U.S. Ambassador, U.S. and Latvian military leadership attended the arrival and spoke to local journalists about the event. Commander of the Joint Headquarters of the Latvian National Armed Forces Brigadier General Ivo Mogiļnijs, and U.S. Army Europe Deputy Chief of Operations Brig. Gen. Timothy Daugherty, were in attendance to observe the arrival.