KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — More than 80 U.S. Army helicopters were damaged in April when a sudden hailstorm hit Kandahar Airfield, where nearly half of Task Force Falcon’s helicopters were parked.
The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade immediately began to replace damaged blades, stabilators and windows. The aircrafts’ metal skins also were damaged and in need of repair.
In order to accomplish these tasks, the CAB enlisted aid from units within the basic force, supporting maneuver units and higher commands in the United States and Afghanistan. The repair-assistance teams realigned critical air assets to Kandahar Airfield, where commanders on the ground still were conducting missions in Regional Command-South.
The teams used daily video conferences to simplify communication between various command echelons, theater logistical units in Afghanistan and logistical experts across the globe. They orchestrated resupply efforts, resulting in more than half of the damaged helicopters being repaired in the first week. Within five days, nearly 25 percent of the replacement blades had arrived.
Army Col. Allan Pepin, commander of Task Force Falcon, 3rd CAB, said he was impressed with the enterprise’s response and minimal impact on the mission.
“I remain impressed at the incredible capacity of the enterprise to source resources to support the combatant commander. The enemy had no opportunity to take advantage of the impact on our aircraft,” he said.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Marty Calkins, the brigade aviation maintenance officer, oversaw the reception of new parts and the parts-installation work on helicopters needed for the fighting season.
“We received immediate support from the aviation task force in Regional Command-East and units in Kuwait, who began sending every blade, canopy and anything else we requested,” Calkins said.
Pepin, among others in the Army Aviation community and Task Force Falcon, said that the hailstorm was not as impressive as the reaction to resupply and repair damaged parts.
“I remain inspired and in awe to serve with our great leaders and maintainers who made this significant challenge and historical event easy to overcome; a remarkable accomplishment by any standard,” Pepin said.