Air Guard assumes Antarctic airlift responsibilities

Released: Mar 27, 1998

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- A New York Air National Guard ski-equipped LC-130 unit inherited a historic responsibility in assuming the mission of airlift support for science in Antarctica. The Department of Defense and National Science Foundation signed a memorandum of agreement March 26 in the Pentagon.

The agreement, carrying signatures from senior representatives of DOD, the Air Force, Navy, U.S. Transportation Command, National Guard Bureau and National Science Foundation, completes a three-year transition of program responsibility for LC-130 operations from the Navy to the New York Air Guard's 109th Airlift Wing at Schenectady.

LC-130 airlift is necessary for the movement of people and cargo vital to the conduct of the U.S. Antarctic Program's scientific research at international sites throughout the Antarctic continent including the United States Admunsen-Scott South Pole Station.

The agreement signing is the last in a series of events that complete the airlift transition. Ceremonies held during the last three weeks in McMurdo Station, Antarctica; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Port Hueneme, Calif., symbolically brought closure to Navy oversight over logistic air support on the Antarctica continent that began with Rear Adm. Richard E. Byrd's Operation Deep Freeze in 1955.

During the 1998-99 Antarctic research season, the Navy's lone-remaining flying unit there, Antarctica Development Squadron Six, will assist the 109th AW, DOD's designated LC-130 airlift provider to the National Science Foundation.

The 109th AW has operated in polar environments since 1975 and is the only LC-130 unit in the world flying the ski-equipped airlift aircraft in both the northern and southern polar regions. By February and the conclusion of the Antarctic season, they will be the only operational LC-130 unit in the world.

Neal Lane, director of the National Science Foundation, the executive agent responsible for conduct of the USAP, said, "We thank the Navy for decades of support which has helped to advance research important to the future of our planet -- studies of the ozone hole, the stability of the Antarctic ice sheets and the dynamics of the southern ocean."


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