3rd AS drives testing of new C-17 combat offload method

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Amanda Jett
  • 436th Airlift Squadron

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – The 3rd Airlift Squadron spearheaded the testing of a new C-17 Globemaster III combat offloading procedure known as Method C, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, January 23, 2024.

Method C allows aircrews to safely deliver palletized cargo off the aft ramp without the use of forklifts or other types of aircraft cargo handling vehicles.

“I think Method C will be a good opportunity and tool for the C-17,” said Capt. Joshua Lesoine, 3rd AS pilot. “It would offer us an ability to drop cargo in a shorter distance than with the current method, plus with minimal ground support and minimizing the risk of damaging cargo.”

A normal C-17 Method A combat offload consists of opening the cargo door, unlocking a pallet, then using inertia to slide the pallet off the ramp.

With Method C, a pallet will be moved to the ramp then locked into the rail system and attached to a winch. Then the ramp is lowered and angled to 12 inches off the ground, allowing the pallet to be winched out slowly. This will allow the pallet to slide down the ramp and be gently lowered to the ground. Finally, the winch is disconnected before the plane taxis forward allowing the pallet to completely drop to the ground.

“Basically, we are pulling the jet out from underneath the pallet,” explains Master Sgt. Ryan Thompson, 3rd AS loadmaster. “This allows the cargo to only drop at 12 inches versus over 5 feet, eliminating potential damage to the pallet or cargo.”

Not only does this new method minimize risk to cargo but it also requires less space for delivery. This could provide more opportunities for missions that were not an option before.

“During a normal combat offload you need a distance of 1,000 feet to offload pallets,” said Lesoine. “But while testing Method C we dropped multiple pallets at less than 300 feet, significantly less than what we normally require.”

Currently, Method C is still being tested and is awaiting approval.

“Method C will give us the ability to deliver cargo effectively in multiple types of contested environments,” said Lesoine. “If we can use less resources to do the same amount of work or even more, why wouldn't we?”