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News | April 18, 2022

Texas Guard Airmen strengthen SPP partnership with Chile

By Senior Airman Laura Weaver, 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard

SANTIAGO, Chile – The Texas Air National Guard joined more than a hundred Airmen to participate in the FIDAE (Feria Internacional del Aire y Espacio) international air and space show April 5-10.

Two C-130J Super Hercules from the 136th Airlift Wing supported FIDAE by providing transport to various support crews and cargo, including the F-22 Raptor Demo Team and Falcon Telescope from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

One of the C-130Js remained on static display for the duration of the air show to provide visitors with an up-close look at the airframe. Four 136th AW crews were available throughout the week to interact with visitors and share insight to the capabilities of the wing’s new C-130J with their Chilean partners and air show attendees.

“We have a strong partnership with the Chileans,” said Lt. Col. Brian Harper, 181st Airlift Squadron commander and C-130J pilot. “When we come to FIDAE, not only do we get to solidify the relationships we’ve built over these years, but we also get to help out the rest of the Air Force. We were able to assist by taking down the F-22 Demo Team and USAFA’s Falcon Telescope, ultimately strengthening our partnerships and creating a shared space in air, space and cyber domains.”

As the fifth-largest air and trade show in the world, and largest in South America, FIDAE brought 46 countries together to promote the development of aerospace, defense and security for the first time in four years. The last iteration of the biannual event two years ago was canceled due to the pandemic. 

The air show showcased demonstrations from the F-22 Raptor, Wings of Blue Parachute Team and the B-52 and static displays of the F-22, Texas Air National Guard’s C-130J Super Hercules, and Nevada Air National Guard’s C-130H Hercules.

U.S. military participation in FIDAE showcased the commitment and partnership the Texas Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force have with Chile and allowed Airmen to strengthen regional and military-to-military relationships.

“These are the best days of FIDAE,” said Harper. “When we get to open up our aircraft to the Chilean people, we’re able to talk to them in broken English and broken Spanish and tell our story about what we do and put a human face on the United States, the U.S. Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard.”

The Texas Air National Guard has partnered with Chile since 2009 through the State Partnership Program. For Texas and Chile, it creates opportunities for high-level exchanges and cooperation in civic-military activities, such as tactical, humanitarian and disaster-response missions.

Through these exchanges, Airmen share best practices with their Chilean counterparts.

“I’ve been to Chile four times, and this is my second time to FIDAE,” said Harper. “It’s all been through the State Partnership Program. We’re able to teach the Chileans some things we do in our aircraft, but on the other side, they’re able to teach us some things that they do. It’s a great opportunity to exchange information, in particular, tactical airlift operations, night-vision device training and contingency response.”

Attending FIDAE also provides the 136th AW with training opportunities to enhance its operability.

“There are a lot of training items our squadron is able to accomplish just by coming to FIDAE,” said Harper. “For example, we haven’t taken the new C-130J over water yet, so we got to do some over-water training with our crews. It’s a great opportunity because we can practice taking the aircraft into different international air spaces and see how this aircraft performs differently from our previous aircraft, the C-130H.”

The 136th AW is undergoing an entire fleet conversion to the C-130J Super Hercules, replacing its former fleet of C-130Hs manufactured more than 30 years ago. The wing is expected to receive eight C-130Js by the end of the conversion, with the fleet’s final J-model to arrive next month.

The 136th AW includes more than 1,000 Airmen as a part of the Texas Military Department. Thousands of Airmen have supported tactical airlift missions during the unit’s tenure flying C-130s across the nation and around the world, executing missions for cargo transportation, search and rescue, and emergency response support during natural disasters.