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Increased Antarctic airlift capability contributes to science

160715-F-GD533-014 – U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kirk Halsey, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron crew chief, dawns extreme cold weather gear as he stands in front of a C-17 Globemaster III during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016, at Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica. ODF is one of the most difficult U.S. military peacetime missions due to the austere environment in which it is conducted. Therefore, extreme cold weather gear, including polar fleeces, balaclavas (ski masks), mukluks (soft boots designed for cold weather), cold weather gloves, ear bands, neck gaiters, hats, polar fleece pants, insulated cold weather bibs, extreme cold weather parkas, is issued to personnel in order for them to be prepared to support this vital mission. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough

160715-F-GD533-014 – U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kirk Halsey, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron crew chief, dawns extreme cold weather gear as he stands in front of a C-17 Globemaster III during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016, at Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica. ODF is one of the most difficult U.S. military peacetime missions due to the austere environment in which it is conducted. Therefore, extreme cold weather gear, including polar fleeces, balaclavas (ski masks), mukluks (soft boots designed for cold weather), cold weather gloves, ear bands, neck gaiters, hats, polar fleece pants, insulated cold weather bibs, extreme cold weather parkas, is issued to personnel in order for them to be prepared to support this vital mission. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., rests on Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation.  It is one of the military’s most difficult peacetime missions due to the harsh Antarctic environment.  The U.S. military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such an austere environment and has therefore provided support to the U.S. Antarctic Program since 1955. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., rests on Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. It is one of the military’s most difficult peacetime missions due to the harsh Antarctic environment. The U.S. military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such an austere environment and has therefore provided support to the U.S. Antarctic Program since 1955. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Captain Andrew Rast (left) and Lt. Col. J.W. Smith (right), 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-17 pilots, prepare to land a C-17 using night vision goggles on Pegasus Ice Runway near McMurdo Station, Antarctica July 15, 2016. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, most inhospitable continent on the globe, and each trip to Antarctica requires careful planning and coordination. Operation Deep Freeze's new year-round operating seating opens doors for additional science and research to be conducted in support of the National Science Foundation-managed U.S.
Antarctic Program. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn
McCullough)

Captain Andrew Rast (left) and Lt. Col. J.W. Smith (right), 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-17 pilots, prepare to land a C-17 using night vision goggles on Pegasus Ice Runway near McMurdo Station, Antarctica July 15, 2016. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, most inhospitable continent on the globe, and each trip to Antarctica requires careful planning and coordination. Operation Deep Freeze's new year-round operating seating opens doors for additional science and research to be conducted in support of the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

A member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helps U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Marc Staten, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, move a pallet onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand. ODF is a joint operation between the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the RNZAF. Every year, a joint and total force team works to complete a successful ODF season.

A member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helps U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Marc Staten, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, move a pallet onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand. ODF is a joint operation between the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the RNZAF. Every year, a joint and total force team works to complete a successful ODF season.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Marc Staten, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, moves a pallet onto a C-17 Globemaster III, during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand. ODF is a joint operation between the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.   (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Marc Staten, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, moves a pallet onto a C-17 Globemaster III, during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand. ODF is a joint operation between the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Passengers and cargo heading to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, are ready to fly during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand. Operation Deep Freeze is a joint operation between the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Passengers and cargo heading to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, are ready to fly during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand. Operation Deep Freeze is a joint operation between the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Passengers depart from a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III and make their way to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016, at Pegasus Ice Runway. ODF is a joint operation between the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Passengers depart from a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III and make their way to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016, at Pegasus Ice Runway. ODF is a joint operation between the U.S. Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Passengers from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, prepare to load a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, most inhospitable continent on the globe. Conditions are continuously monitored due to the unpredictable and quick-changing weather at the bottom of the world to ensure safety of aircraft, ships, cargo, passengers and crews while deployed in support of ODF.  (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Passengers from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, prepare to load a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, most inhospitable continent on the globe. Conditions are continuously monitored due to the unpredictable and quick-changing weather at the bottom of the world to ensure safety of aircraft, ships, cargo, passengers and crews while deployed in support of ODF. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Passengers leaving Antarctica wait for cargo to finish being offloaded and onloaded onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III before takeoff during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, most inhospitable continent on the globe. Conditions are continuously monitored due to the unpredictable and quick-changing weather at the bottom of the world to ensure safety of aircraft, ships, cargo, passengers and crews while deployed in support of ODF. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

Passengers leaving Antarctica wait for cargo to finish being offloaded and onloaded onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III before takeoff during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016 at Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, most inhospitable continent on the globe. Conditions are continuously monitored due to the unpredictable and quick-changing weather at the bottom of the world to ensure safety of aircraft, ships, cargo, passengers and crews while deployed in support of ODF. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III taxis through the snow on Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016. ODF is the logistical support provided by the Department of Defense to the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). This includes the coordination of strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical intra-theater airlift and airdrop, and transportation requirements supporting the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the USAP.  (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 11

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III taxis through the snow on Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016. ODF is the logistical support provided by the Department of Defense to the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). This includes the coordination of strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical intra-theater airlift and airdrop, and transportation requirements supporting the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the USAP. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrew Rast, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron pilot, uses night vision goggles to taxi a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft after landing at Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016. ODF is the logistical support provided by the Department of Defense to the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). This includes the coordination of strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical intra-theater airlift and airdrop, and transportation requirements supporting the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the USAP. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 11

U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrew Rast, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron pilot, uses night vision goggles to taxi a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft after landing at Pegasus Ice Runway, Antarctica during Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), July 15, 2016. ODF is the logistical support provided by the Department of Defense to the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). This includes the coordination of strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical intra-theater airlift and airdrop, and transportation requirements supporting the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the USAP. (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn McCullough)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Over the past 60 years, winter flying missions have provided a significant contribution to how the National Science Foundation conducts scientific research in Antarctica.

The C-17 Globemaster III 2016-2017 season recently wrapped-up, and the night vision goggle capability paired with mid-Austral winter flying continued to be a game changing airlift support for the NSF during Operation Deep Freeze.

Citizen Airmen assigned to the 446th Airlift ‘Rainier’ Wing and active duty Air Force members assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing formed blended aircrews to deploy as part of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron who provide airlift to the Antarctic in support of the NSF managed U.S. Antarctic Program.

“The 446th Operations Group performed at a high level of expertise this season,” said Senior Master Sgt. Derek Bryant, 446th Operations Group loadmaster. “Every aircrew member should know that they laid a foundation that the NSF is now building upon and the mid-winter missions coupled with our NVG capability have launched us into a new era for ODF.”

Despite the difficulty of operating in an austere environment, the 166 total force personnel deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, airlifted 1.8 million pounds of cargo and transported 2,992 passengers into the Antarctic logging a total of 393 flight hours.

“The new McMurdo-Phoenix Airfield was validated and approved for C-17 and wheeled aircraft operations,” said Lt. Col. Robert Schmidt, 304th EAS mission commander and 62nd Operations Group deputy commander. “The new field replaces Pegasus field, which has experienced several seasons of melting, and is expected to remain in use beyond 2030."

Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, is the staging point for deployments to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, a key research and operations facility for the USAP. Deployment support at McMurdo is provided by Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica and led by Pacific Air Forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Community outreach was a highlight for this season as well. The Mayor of Christchurch, Lianne Dalziel, presented the 304th EAS with a civic award for supporting local charities. Aircrews supported New Zealand’s yearly IceFest—a unique festival, with over 4,500 attendees, highlighting New Zealand’s leadership in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean—with a C-17 static display.

Through six decades of continuous support, ODF has evolved to meet today’s logistics requirements of the USAP. Joint Task Force – Support Forces Antarctica, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, executes inter- and intra-theater airlift, tactical LC-130 deep field support, aeromedical evacuation support, search and rescue, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling and transportation requirements at NSF’s request in order to support the USAP.

Planning for the next season will include continued refinement of the mid-Austral schedule as well as supporting NSF future requirements.

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