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February 20, 1998

Tunners enhance operations in Southwest Asia

By Staff Sgt. Mike Leonard
821st Tanker Airlift Control Element

(Note:  Three photos - 980213a.jpg, 980213b.jpg and 980213c.jpg - accompany this story.)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The men and women of the 821st Tanker Airlift Control Element have already moved more than 5,500 tons of cargo in one week using older 25,000K loaders and 13,000K forklifts.

Now, they’ll be able to move that same amount a lot faster and easier with the arrival of two Tunners, the Air Force’s newest heavy cargo loaders. The 60,000K loaders made their way into the theater aboard an Air Mobility Command C-5 from Dover AFB, Del., Feb. 19.

The new cargo loaders arrived just in time, said Tech. Sgt. Ken Moore, ramp services production manager for the 436th Aerial Port Squadron at Dover. He and five other aerial porters were sent here to operate the Tunner. And not a moment too soon, as the Tanker Airlift Control Element team was presented with what was considered a difficult plane to unload.

A commercial 747 cargo plane arrived, and because of the plane’s height and other potential pitfalls, a Tunner was needed to unload the cargo. "Without the Tunner to unload that 747, it could have taken us as much as three times as long to do the same job," said Moore.

The Tunner, named for the former U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner, is replacing the older, slower 40K loaders currently being used throughout the Air Force.

According to Moore, the new loader can drive on and off of C-5, C-17, C-141 and other wide-bodied aircraft. It’s also compatible with all military and commercial cargo aircraft, a quality the two smaller loaders don’t possess.

"With the Tunner, we can off-load the planes a lot faster by putting two more pallets on it than the 40 K loaders can handle," said Staff Sgt. Brent Sarver, 821st TALCE, McGuire AFB, deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Southern Watch.

The Tunner also has side-loading capabilities that the 40K loader doesn’t have and a catwalk that gives crews more room to work. "The 40K has been a great loader, but its growing old and outlived its use… it’s time that it’s replaced with newer, better technology like the Tunner," said Moore.

As more troops and equipment pour into the theater, the TALCE is tasked with getting the planes off-loaded and back into the air with minimal delays and less congestion on the flightline. Moore and his team said they are convinced that the Tunners and the TALCE team will make that happen. (AMC News Service courtesy of 821st TALCE Public Affairs)

980213a.jpg (91227 bytes) Airman 1st Class Jason Klug, 436th Aerial Port Squadron, Dover AFB, Del., drives the "Spirit of Dover II," a Tunner, off a C-5 Galaxy in Southwest Asia. The new 60,000K cargo loader will be used to support Operation Southern Watch. (photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Leonard)
980213b.jpg (115242 bytes) Airman 1st Class Jason Klug, 436th Aerial Port Squadron, Dover AFB, Del., drives a 60K Tunner off a C-5 Galaxy from Dover AFB, Del., in Southwest Asia.
980213c.jpg (138058 bytes) The Air Force’s newest 60,000K loader, the Tunner, arrives is arrives in Southwest Asia from Dover AFB, Del., in support of Operation Southern Watch. (photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Leonard)