JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
For the first time ever at McChord Field, an A-400M Royal Air Force Aircraft was parked on the McChord flightline for international operations. Soldiers from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team along with 62nd Airlift Wing members worked with members from the RAF to load a Stryker combat vehicle onto the aircraft.
The training was held to create technical orders for loading the aircraft in preparation for the upcoming Mobility Guardian exercise this summer.
“This allowed our Soldiers to practice getting the Stryker’s on and off the aircraft,” said 2nd Lt. Cameron Nardini, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st SBCT operations officer. “I think it was good to learn how the RAF does things and makes us better prepared for when we work with each other in Mobility Guardian.”
Because the A-400M is an aircraft that Soldiers here have not trained with before, there were numerous aspects of the aircraft they had to learn about.
“The main concern is that this is loaded correctly into the aircraft,” said RAF Flight Sergeant Andrew Richardson, A-400M loadmaster. “There are many safety factors we want to cover.”
The Stryker vehicle loaded weighed more than 26 tons and there was minimal room for error.
“I can't speak for our whole unit, but personally I think this was a good learning experience going into Mobility Guardian,” said Cameron. “It is going to be a really good logistical exercise to see how fast we can load onto the aircraft and deploy.”
Besides technical challenges, Soldiers and RAF members worked to become familiar with each other’s procedures and jargon.
“This was good to foster our relationship and to get past the nuances of our culture,” said Richardson. “We were able to learn what each other expected and what needs to be accomplished.”
A rare sight to McChord, the loading of the Stryker onto the A-400M was observed by Team McChord leadership and distinguished visitors including Army Gen. (retired) Peter Chiarelli, former vice chief of staff of the Army.
“I will say this was a great experience to work with the British and work with our Air Force counterparts,” said Nardini. “Being able to work with military members from another country and to learn how they operate as an Air Force was really beneficial.”