by Sam Spence
UPDATE: Late last week, the U.S. Air Force released more information on the Charleston-based C-17's participation in the August 8 airdrop, including more info on the materials dropped and quotes from members of the joint team participating.
"Making quick work of the project, the 18 riggers from the 11th Quartermaster Company can assemble 40 CDS bundles of water in two hours.
"The most challenging portion of the operation is placing these halal meals, which are MREs, on the pallets," said Spc. Jonathan Echaves, who is from Queens, New York. "It's like playing Tetris."
You may have seen reports by the P&C and AP that a C-17 Globemaster III, one of the massive cargo jets that flies out of Joint Base Charleston, was one of three aircraft involved in the humanitarian airdrop over northern Iraq overnight, as part of air operations approved by the president late yesterday.
There are dozens of C-17s that call the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston home, according to the P&C. For the past few years, they've flown transport missions in support of military functions in Europe and the Middle East.
In addition to the C-17 transports, which can weigh up to a half-million pounds when fully-loaded, two of the smaller, more common C-130 prop aircraft assisted in the supply drop, which delivered water and food to as many as 40,000 Iraqis displaced after recent threats from ISIS militants.
From the P&C/AP report:
The C-17 dropped 40 "Container Delivery System" bundles of fresh drinking water, the Pentagon said, and was complemented by a C-130 loaded with an additional 16 bundles totaling 5,300 gallons of fresh drinking water.
Additionally, one C-130 aircraft dropped 16 bundles totaling 8,000 meals ready to eat. "The aircraft were over the drop area for less than fifteen minutes flying at a low altitude," the Pentagon said.
The Washington Post reports today that the Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel said that about 80% of the supplies dropped reached the Iraqis stranded on mountain near Sinjar, Iraq.
The U.S. has also launched airstrikes against ISIS militants from the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush, stationed in the Arabian Gulf.
You can find a number of videos posted on YouTube that showcase the jet's capabilities, here's one that we found reportedly loading and dropping bundles of supplies over Afghanistan some time in the past few years.