Story by SGT Dustin Biven on 03/08/2019FORT SILL, OKLAHOMA Army artillerymen and Air Force aviators trained side-by-side loading M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) onto a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules on March 5, 2019, at Fort Sill in preparation for "Operation Phantom Flight."
During the exercise, Soldiers from Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery Regiment, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, Fort Sill, OK, along with Airmen from 40th Airlift Squadron, 317th Airlift Operations Group, 317th Airlift Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, TX, conducted cold load HIMARS rehearsal at Henry Post Army Air Field, Fort Sill by loading and securing a HIMARS into a C-130J while with maintaining a connection with the aircraft's Joint Precision Airdrop System, (JPADS).
Cold load training allows Soldiers to rehearse a mission without involving live ammunition.
This type of training allows the Soldiers of 75th FA BDE to maintain a heightened level of readiness, able to deploy worldwide in order to support ongoing operations and Army contingency plans.
"Loading a HIMARS onto a C-130J is a task we perform during training to ensure that, when called upon, we can rapidly deploy anywhere in the world to strategically position our assets to deter aggression, and if need be, deliver lethal rocket and missile fires," said Lt. Col. John M. Auten III, Commander of 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery Regiment. "Every opportunity to train with our U.S. Air Force counterparts builds rapport and trust. For our Soldiers, it builds up their confidence, letting them know that they can execute the most dynamic mission set we have as a HIMARS unit."
Upon arrival to the airfield, Soldiers performed multiple point inspections on the equipment in preparation for its loading.
Once the HIMARS was inspected and cleared to be loaded, Soldiers proceeded to back the system onto the C-130J, securing it with multiple chains to prevent movement during flight.
Soldiers ensured that the HIMARS is properly linked with the aircraft's JPADS, allowing the system to maintain the ability to disembark from the aircraft and execute fire missions with minimal delay.
"Training like today's enhances our mission readiness by providing hands-on rehearsals for our launcher crews," said Sgt. 1st Class Randy Traxler, assigned as the battalion master gunner, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery Regiment. "Some units only receive this kind of training when in a schoolhouse or a deployed environment. By allowing our Soldiers to train alongside those with whom they could one day deploy, adds to the confidence they have when conducting these missions. This training allows us to enhance our readiness and ability to deploy worldwide when called upon."
The cold load HIMARS rehearsal is in preparation for 'Operation Phantom Flight,' a multiple day training event scheduled for April 2019.
'Operation Phantom Flight' will require 1-14th FA to conduct HIMARS Rapid Infiltration (HIRAIN).
"'Operation Phantom Flight' provides further validation of our ability to strategically emplace lethal, long-range, precision artillery assets anywhere in the world," said 1st Lt. Mike Antel, Fire Direction Officer for 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery Regiment.
During 'Operation Phantom Flight,' the unit will be required to successfully load and secure the HIMARS, linking with the aircraft's JPADS just as they did during the cold load HIMARS rehearsal.
"The execution of the scheduled HIRAIN operation meets multiple training requirements," said Lt. Col Auten. "We validate our Command Deployment Discipline Program, exercise Fort Sill as a power projection platform, and demonstrate how the Joint Forces can combine the U.S. Air Force strategic lift assets with the 1-14th FA HIMARS to form a lethal team. This combination showcases that the United States can go anywhere in the world and deter all acts of aggression from any of our adversaries."