LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - If you have seen new aircraft in the skies above Southwest Louisiana, it’s because the United States Air Force has landed in Lake Charles at Chennault. The airport says they are hosting the aircrews and 2 C-130 aircrafts this week as a part of a Green Flag Little Rock exercise.
“We’ve been out here since Sunday and we are participants in the Green Flag Little Rock exercise which is run by the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana," Major Lance Peak, an instructor pilot for the C-130J said. "It allows us to create a cohesive and interoperate with our joint sister service and international partners.”
Green Flag exercises, according to Peak, focus on combat airlift and airdrops, as well as challenging the aircrews in survival, evasion, resistance, and escape-type scenarios.
“It’s a joint live training exercise which allows us to implement and hone our tactical airlift prowess if you will," Peak said. "We run that out of Fort Polk so we take off every day out of here and we get into that area and we practice air-land missions into dirt landing zones with our Army partners and International partners and trust our ability to train with partners in joint services that we don’t operate with on a daily basis.”
The aircrews come from the 61st Airlift Squadron out of Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, the 621st Contingency Response Wing out of Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California and the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, New York. The squadrons are joined by international airlift partners out of Canada and Sweden.
“The importance of having exercises like this is the ability to interoperate,” Peak said. “We don’t go at it alone. We always have our friends in the fight. With Canada and Sweden, although we don’t always speak the same language, we have these operations to really solidify that joint effort.”
Peak says exercises like these allow them to be ready for anything and Chennault, which origins date back to its use as a Cold War-era Air Force base, says they are happy to continue to host the military.
“We bend over backward here to meet the demands of our Air Force warriors and the Department of Defense," Kevin Melton, Executive Director of Chennault said. "We are just really excited to have them here for the week and we hope they come back and see us and we can and we can continue to be a part of their joint training exercises.”
Chennault says the exercises will continue through the rest of this week.