Southern Katipo underway in New Zealand

Southern Katipo underway in New Zealand

Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) T-6C Texan II aircraft practice maneuvers above a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at RNZAF Base Ohakea, New Zealand, Oct. 20, 2017. The C-17, assigned to the 176th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, is in New Zealand to participate in Exercise Southern Katipo 17, a multinational military exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Nathaniel Roesler)

U.S. Air Force Launches into Exercise Southern Katipo 17

Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Flight Lt. Toby Mercer, air rider, advises U.S. Air Force personnel on New Zealand airspace procedures in preparation for Exercise Southern Katipo 17 at RNZAF Base Ohakea, Oct. 19, 2017. Mercer worked alongside the 133rd Airlift Wing C-130H crew from the Minnesota Air National Guard in order to educate them on local flying procedures, ensuring safety while conducting operations in New Zealand. (U.S. Air Force photo//Senior Airman Katelynn Moeller)

ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE BASE OHAKEA, New Zealand -- U.S. Air Force aircraft took off for their first mission during Exercise Southern Katipo, here, Oct. 20.

A U.S. Air Force C-130H assigned to the 133rd Airlift Wing Minnesota Air National Guard and a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 176th AW at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, kicked off the exercise with multi-leg missions transporting personnel and cargo throughout New Zealand.

Southern Katipo is a biannual, multinational military training exercise conducted in New Zealand, designed to improve combat training, readiness and interoperability among allied and partner nations. U.S. Airmen participate with service members from New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Brunei, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Canada, France and Britain.

"We're really excited to work with our partners from New Zealand and other countries," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Austin Tally, 517th Airlift Squadron lead exercise planner. "Every time we conduct exercises like this with our allies and partners, we both learn from each other and get better at working together in the future."

The U.S. Air Force aircraft will conduct air drops, cargo missions and troop movements on the south and north islands of New Zealand as part of the exercise. One of the unique preparations for the aircrew included familiarization flights with an air rider, a Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot who is assigned to instruct visiting aircrews on local the airspace procedures.

"Having air riders observe and advise us on local flight procedures and radio calls ensures that we can safely do the sorties and get the mission done," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Daw, 133rd Airlift Wing Minnesota Air National Guard C-130H navigator. "This is a really unique experience to come here and practice our mission in a country we've never flown in before."