Volga-Dnepr An-124 Lands at Shaw AFB

It’s fun when you get to correlate things you hear on the radios with happenings in the news.  In this instance, I was able to match up a hit on the RadarBox with a news story out of Shaw AFB.  On 30 June, the RadarBox picked up An-124 with Mode-S of  15407E and registration  RA-82046 from the Volga-Dnepr Group.  The massive An-124s aren’t something you get to see or hear from very often in this area so both the intercept and this news story were attention-getters.

Russian An-124 lands at Shaw
by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers
20th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs

7/3/2012 – SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — Airmen from the 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron loaded a Russian Antonov An-124 Ruslan with equipment and supplies for 8th Army in Republic of Korea here June 30, 2012.

Volga Dnepr Group An-124 being loaded at Shaw AFB on 30 June 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)

The plane was originally sent to Joint Base Charleston, S.C., but was diverted because Charleston’s runways were shut down for repaving.

“This is the first diversion to Shaw for 2012,” said 1st Lt. Sara Ramirez, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer and a native of Burlington, Mass.

Shaw normally doesn’t receive heavy planes because Shaw is a small terminal compared to bases like Scott AFB, Ill., or Charleston, said Senior Master Sgt. Frank Graziano, 20th LRS deployment and distribution superintendent. Bigger bases are equipped with more manning and equipment to take on larger aircraft.

“We received this aircraft because were the closest on short notice and we have seasoned people who know how to work this aircraft,” he continued.

With only four aero-transporters and a week’s notice, Shaw was able to successfully complete the mission and load 135,000 pounds of supplies and equipment, which included three mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles and two communication satellites, onto the An-124 within two hours.

MRAP being loaded on the Volga Dnepr An-124. Note the registration RA-82046; that was the same registration noted on the RadarBox hit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)
A satellite unit being loaded on the Volga Dnepr An-124. The RA-82046 registration is also visible in this photo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)

“LRS met this mission with just half of their personnel and were still able to make it work,” said Grasiano. “That just shows the professionalism of our folks here and their capabilities to be able to meet the mission requirements.”

This was also a unique training opportunity for the LRS, said Staff Sgt. Chris Deibel, 20th LRS aero-transporter and a native of Killeen, Texas.

“This mission was not only multi-branch, but also multi-nationality because it was crossed between Air Force and Army, and the United States and Russia.” said Grasiano. “It gave a breadth of experience for our guys.”

“I haven’t loaded a Russian aircraft before,” said Airman 1st Class Joshua Robinson, 20th LRS aero-transporter and a native to Anderson, S.C. “It was a totally different experience loading this aircraft compared to how we normally load one.”
The Russian plane departed from here 9:15 a.m. July 2, 2012.

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