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Team Dover flies first C-5M to Iraq

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- As the Dover aircraft landed at the runway in Iraq, delivering over 85,000 pounds of equipment for troops downrange, it may have seemed like any other mission. This, however, was the first C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to fly into Iraq.

Dover's three C-5M aircraft have completed the operational testing phase and are about to enter the conversion phase.

"It's satisfying to get the aircraft into the fight delivering much needed supplies to the troops in the field," said Lt. Col. Mike Semo, 709th Airlift Squadron pilot and C-5M Program Office chief.

The aircraft not only delivered the cargo on short notice, but was able to arrive back to base ahead of schedule.

"Everyone in the C-5 community, including our crew, is very aware of past, present and future C-5M operations," said Capt. Nicholas Cobb, 9th Airlift Squadron C-5M evaluator pilot. "When the 9th AS was tasked with this Operation Iraqi Freedom channel mission on Jan. 18, we knew this would be the first C-5M mission to actually land in Iraq. The entire crew was extremely excited and proud of this first-time accomplishment. Not only did we successfully accomplish the mission, we were four for four with on-time take-offs, demonstrating the improved reliability of the C-5M. We arrived at Dover almost one and a half hours earlier than originally scheduled by the Tanker Airlift Control Center."

Once the aircraft has been approved for Direct Delivery Capability, Dover aircrews will be able to fly cargo directly to Iraq without stopping to refuel.

"We've tested the ability to fly this aircraft directly to the Middle East with 33 direct flights to Incirlik, Turkey and returning direct Dover" said Colonel Semo. "Now that it's been tested and proven, the only requirement is the final approval to be able to accomplish direct flights. This will allow us to develop a wider range of strategic abilities around the C-5M aircraft and will significantly decrease the time the aircraft spends on the ground. In some cases, this will save us over a day in travel time."

After setting 41 world records with the C-5M, being the first to fly the aircraft into Iraq, the Dover aircrew is already looking towards the next first, using the aircraft to fly supplies to Airmen in Afghanistan.