A Strategic Airlift Capability C-17 releases a 155 millimeter M777 howitzer weighing 4,2 tons during exercise Allied Spirit II over the Hohenfels training area, Germany. The airdrop of the howitzer belonging to the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade was the first of its kind to the multinational SAC program aircraft. Photo: U.S. Army / Justin De Hoyos
Allied Spirit II, that took place in southeastern Germany from 4 to 24 August, involved more than 4,500 participants from 8 nations including Canada, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, the United Kingdom, and the United States having an opportunity to receive interoperability training and pre-deployment certification.
At a request from its member nation, the United States, the Strategic Airlift Capability supported Allied Spirit II with its C-17 cargo jets by carrying out parachute assisted delivery of the equipment and personnel of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade of the U.S. Army in Europe to a drop zone at the Hohenfels Training area.
The C-17 crew members of the Strategic Airlift Capability operational arm, the Heavy Airlift Wing, discuss the upcoming mission in front of the airdrop payload consisting of a MTV truck and a M777 howitzer at Pápa Air Base, Hungary prior to takeoff for the Hohenfels training area on 13 August 2015. Photo: HAW / Ville Tuokko
The 173rd Airborne is a regular training partner of SAC, but this time one of the payloads delivered was a first of its kind for the multinational program and its C-17s. On one of the airdrops, a SAC C-17 carried out the successful airdrop of a M777 155 millimeter howitzer and its tow truck, a 6 x 6 Medium Tactical Vehicle (MTV).
Before the airdrop, the 4,200 kilogram howitzer and the 11,200 kilogram truck were attached to their huge aerial delivery pallets and rigged with several parachutes that occupied most of the floor space of the C-17 cargo compartment with their travel length of over 9.5 and 7.2 meters respectively. The SAC C-17 delivery of the payloads was successful with both pallets landing within 90 meters of the center point of the drop zone.
U.S. Army Soldiers assemble a M777 howitzer while conducting airborne operations during exercise Allied Spirit II at the U.S. Army's Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Aug. 13, 2015. Photo: U.S. Army / Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Barrieau