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US Team Prepares For Summer In Antarctica

US Team Prepares For Summer In Antarctica

Cargo Flights From Christchurch, New Zealand Are Underway.

In the Southern Hemisphere, spring officially begins September 23. That includes Antarctica, and for members of the US Air Force assigned to Operation Deep Freeze, late winter flights, known as WINFLY, for Operation Deep Freeze 2011-2012 began August 20. Deep Freeze is a joint service, interagency activity that supports the National Science Foundation (NSF), which manages the US Antarctic Program.

Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, the commander of 13th Air Force, is dual-hatted as the commander of Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica, based at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The joint task force's main summer season in Antarctica is slated to begin Sept. 28.

A C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA., began delivering passengers and cargo to the NSF McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in support of the United States Antarctic Program. Scientists and support personnel at the station will start pre-summer projects, augment maintenance personnel, and prepare skiways, ice runways and an ice pier.

The airlift part of Operation Deep Freeze operates from two primary locations with C-17s situated at Christchurch, New Zealand and LC-130 Hercules forward based at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, beginning in late October. McMurdo is located on the southern tip of Ross Island, a territory of New Zealand.

The operation year is divided into three main phases: WINFLY, which is currently ongoing, followed by the main summer season and the winter phase. WINFLY is the preparation phase between winter and summer when additional support personnel arrive to prepare the station for the upcoming science field season.

NSF manages the US Antarctic Program through which it coordinates all US scientific research on the southernmost continent and aboard ships in the Southern Ocean as well as related logistics support.

"WINFLY missions are important for total force C-17 crews," said Lt. Col. Edward Vaughan, the Deep Freeze interim director of joint operations. "Aside from hauling support passengers and cargo, the National Science Foundation also permits a night-vision goggle training mission. This annual training mission ensures that C-17 crews are prepared to execute their mission in Antarctica year round."

US military support for Operation Deep Freeze is a Pacific Command responsibility organized as Joint Task Force -Support Forces Antarctica. The Joint Task Force includes cargo and fuel tanker ships provided by Military Sealift Command, active- duty and Reserve C-17 support from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at JB Lewis-McChord, ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules flown by the 109th AW of the New York Air National Guard, as well as Coast Guard icebreakers and the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One to provide critical port services at McMurdo Station.

The US military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such an austere environment and has therefore provided annual support to US Antarctic research since Rear Adm. Richard E. Byrd began such operations in 1955.

Source: 23.09.2011 -

Photo: A New York Air National Guard LC-130 Hercules sits while crews unload fuel and cargo during a mission to Antartica in 2005. Ski-equipped LC-130s and C-17 Globemaster IIIs redeployed from Christchurch, New Zealand, like the one pictured supported the 2006-2007 season of Operation Deep Freeze which ended in late February. This unique joint and total force mission has supported the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctic Program since 1955 and is currently led by Pacific Air Forces, 13th Air Force. The LC-130 is equipped with ski-landing gear that allows the aircraft to land on ice or snow while airlifting supplies to remote locations throughout the Antarctic continent. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Efrain Gonzalez) (


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