Friday, July 10, 2009

Airmen in EC-130H unit complete 2,000th combat mission

by Capt. David Faggard, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- An EC-130H Compass Call aircrew here completed their unit's 2,000th combat mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom July 8.

The Airmen, assigned to the 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, provided direct support to coalition ground forces in Afghanistan on the milestone mission.

The EC-130H is an airborne tactical weapon system using a heavily modified version of the C-130 Hercules airframe.

The mission was like any other, according to Capt. Kelly Weber, an EC-130H pilot deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and a native of Fort Worth, Texas.

"It was a very rewarding mission," he said while not discussing the exact details of the sortie due to operational security.

Often called a "Super-E" model, some of the EC-130H aircraft are more than 40 years old. The aircraft's electronics disrupt enemy command and control and are often used to attack hostile communications.

"We're a small community with a small inventory of aircraft," said Lt. Col. Chris Kirschman the 41st EECS squadron commander. "We're 100 percent committed to the mission, and this couldn't get done without our great maintainers on the ground."

The three crewmembers discussing the mission, none of whom were in the Air Force on Sept. 11, 2001, weren't even aware that it was such a monumental flight.

It was almost "routine," said Staff Sgt. Ashley House, a native of Portsmouth Va.

The mission was about seven hours and supporting coalition forces was "very rewarding," said 1st Lt. Lori Brophy, an electronic warfare officer from Raymond, Neb. "They're very professional and know what capabilities we bring to the fight."