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New cargo loading system sees first operational use

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jake Jacobsen
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

A new Vertical Pallet Stacker loading system, designed to maximize and streamline cargo loading, was employed for the first time by the 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron in the execution of Bomber Task Force 24-2 to Luleå-Kallax Air Base, Sweden, Feb. 19.

These BTF missions extend across the globe as a demonstration of U.S. commitment to collective defense and integration with geographic Combatant Command operations and activities.

A team of Ellsworth Airmen ranging from aircraft maintenance personnel, logistics specialists, and other support staff joined B-1B Lancer pilots and weapons system officers in the BTF mission. It was the duty of the 28th LRS to employ the new VPS system to load a C-17 Globemaster III with specialized equipment needed to operate out of the deployed location.

“In a virtual meeting, the Air Force Installation and Support Center offered the chance to try this piece of equipment out and our shop jumped on the opportunity,” said Staff Sgt. James Decoster, 28th LRS air transportation function section chief. “Since this is the first time it is being used operationally, we are being observed to see how well everything goes and the metrics that come from this mission will then be distributed to others for future missions.”

Typically, cargo aircraft are called in to carry troops and their luggage to the final destination, needing to be loaded in a specific way to fit all components. However, the new VPS innovative technology allows for cargo pallets to be stacked on top of each other, utilizing unused storage space and allowing room for the transportation of more Airmen or equipment.

The VPS has an aluminum frame that provides a second level of storage on top of a standard 463L cargo pallet, enabling up to 3,000 pounds of cargo per pallet space to be placed on the top pallet.

“The loading process of the pallets is executed in a similar fashion as before, but now we can use that critical vertical storage space for cargo that would have used up a pallet position before,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Columbogrove, 28th LRS air transportation function non-commissioned officer in charge.

The VPS system has been tested at the Air Force Research Laboratory, and Air Force Operational Energy and is now being utilized for the first time in an operational environment. The system is designed to be used on multiple air cargo carriers to include the C-17, C-5 Galaxy, and C-130 Hercules.

“As far as usability, it’s very easy and intuitive to operate and comes with a really in-depth manual,” Decoster said. “Thanks to this, we can operate more efficiently and send our deployers out with a surplus of equipment that they will need to complete the mission.”

Training outside the U.S. enables Airmen to become familiar with other nations and enhances enduring skills and relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges. These deployments highlight the importance of working with U.S. Allies and partners to collectively build future operating capabilities in host nations.