Air Mobility Command officials set all-time sortie record

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C-17 Globemaster III

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Officials from Air Mobility Command’s 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB set a new record for the number of sorties planned in a 24-hour period in November.

The new mark, set at 1,063 sorties, toppled the previous high of 1,051 set in February of 2008. 

Members of the 618th TACC are the execution arm for global airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation operations. An AMC sortie is a single point-to-point flight by an aircraft under AMC operational control performing a warfighting, exercise, contingency or aeromedical evacuation requirement for the U.S. Transportation Command.

While the record is a significant marker, planning hundreds of missions daily is business as usual for the 618th TACC staff.

“We plan missions, resource the crews and the aircraft, task the missions to the wings and command and control the missions from here,” said Maj. Gen. Mark S. Solo, the 618th TACC commander.

Approximately 80 percent of the planned sorties go into full execution, General Solo said. Weather issues and maintenance can impact aircraft availability, which impacts the ability of the crew to perform the sortie. 

The enemy also gets a vote, he said.

On an average day the center staff plans or monitors about 900 sorties that support a range of requirements from personnel, cargo transport, air-to-air refueling, aeromedial evacuation and training.

“We’re here 24 hours a day, 366 days on a leap year giving our military global reach capability,” the general said. “If a military commander needs an asset or capability and the best route to get it to them is by air, it’s TACC’s job to fulfill that need.”

Members of the 618th TACC planned and coordinated more than 453,000 sorties in support of the war on terrorism, including personnel and cargo transport, air-to-air refueling and aeromedical evacuation missions. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the center’s efforts have moved 7.5 million passengers and 3.2 million tons of cargo, passed 1.1 billion gallons of fuel via air-to-air refueling and performed more than 121,000 patient movements for war on terrorism operations.

If required, the 618th TACC staff’s coordination efforts can seamlessly redirect missions to support humanitarian operations. Following hurricanes Ike and Gustav this summer, 618th TACC-directed sorties delivered 1379 tons of supplies and transported 9,045 residents to safety. Officials from the 618th TACC also made it possible in August to deliver 587 tons in humanitarian relief to residents displaced by fighting in the Republic of Georgia.

“An AMC mission takes off every 90 seconds from locations all around the world,” General Solo said. “Whether it’s evacuating injured troops, delivering supplies to our forces on the ground, performing humanitarian operations or providing air-to-air refueling, the 618th TACC plays a key role in our military’s operations every day.” 

Justin Brockhoff (AFNS)

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