C-17 formation trains over Lowcountry skies

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A C-17 formation successfully took off Wednesday morning from Joint Base Charleston to conduct a variety of training missions.

Thirteen C-17s departed in the morning for a training route that included airdrops, aerial refueling and low level tactical training. The first plane left the runway about 9 a.m. with the others following in 30 second intervals.

"At the end of the day, we are going to sit down, with all of the aircrew and maintainers and decide what worked what and what didn't work," said Col. Darren Hartford, the Commander of the 437th Airlift Wing.

The exercise was coordinated with the Charleston County Aviation Authority and will not delay regularly scheduled flights at Charleston International Airport, officials said.

According to base leaders, the "large formation exercise" is a total-force effort with aircrews consisting of active-duty Airmen from the 437th Airlift Wing and Reservists from the 315th Airlift Wing.

The last exercise similar in size was conducted in 2010, adding that the training exercise is not in response to real-world events, officials said.

According to Joint Base Charleston, Wednesday's event will complete over 600 training requirements and will maintain mission readiness. The training allows the Globemaster III aircrew, maintenance and support Airmen to be updated and tested on a wide variety of requirements in a short period of time.

These skills are needed at all times to ensure the Joint Base Charleston team can move large amounts of forces, cargo or passengers when called upon or when ordered to evacuate due to an incoming hurricane, officials said.

"The skills we test today are the same skills we would use to provide our country's response to a crisis or a conflict anywhere in the world," said Col. Trevor Nitz, 437th Operations Group commander. "Despite current challenges, Airmen are obligated to maintain mission readiness and stand ready to deliver our country's resolve."