In the early morning hours on 10 Apr, 2021, special operations forces at Ramstein, Germany, assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing, on-loaded the 41st Field Artillery Brigade’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in preparation for a cross-theater Rapid Aerial Insertion operation to Romania. This is just one of a series of related missions demonstrating U.S. European Command’s ability to quickly employ long-range precision fires in a time and place of their choosing to support NATO allies and partners.
Once the Special Operations Wing aircraft landed in Germany and joined up with the 41st FAB, stationed at Grafenwoehr, Germany, this joint package, including the MC-130J Commando II, the U.S. Army Europe’s HIMARS, soldiers and aircrew prepared to execute the HIRAIN from Germany to its final destination in Romania. These tactical professionals had practiced on-and-off loading training to expedite the real-time load of the asset to the capable aircraft, increasing the efficiency of employing these long-range systems.
Once loaded, USAF Special Operations aircrew ran final pre-flight checklists for the operation, showcasing one aspect of the increased interoperability between the components. These highly skilled aviators fully understand SOF doesn’t work in a vacuum and are not the only solution to a crisis or contingency, they work as a part of a larger operational and strategic framework. During the flight to the Romanian coast, the MC-130J aircrew conducts in-flight training as it transits NATO airspace. As they make their final approach, ground crew at MK International Airport prepare to rapidly off-load the high-tech HIMARS weapon systems and execute simulated fires within minutes of landing.
In HIRAIN (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System Rapid Infiltration) missions, HIMARS are flown in C-130s to an area, unloaded to rapidly conduct a fire missions, then reloaded in and relocated to follow on objectives. This minimizes the opportunity of detection and counter fire missions against the system. The successful completion of this HIRAIN operation finishes with a safe off-load of the HIMARS back in Germany, and a return to home-station of the SOF aircrew and aircraft to RAF Mildenhall, with plans to execute further iterations solidifying this enhanced deterrent option to ensure peace within the European theater.
This type of complex mission is designed to increase the lethality and readiness for not only the Joint Force, but also strengthens and solidifies the NATO allied coordination while maintaining the US commitment to collective defense. This operation set the conditions for future engagements, both within the rapid aerial insertion (HIRAIN) mission-set and other joint training opportunities in Romania. The work for this mission started long before the ground crews began loading the HIMARS in Germany. At RAF Mildenhall, in the United Kingdom, USAF personnel prepped and fueled SOF aircraft for the combined NATO mission. Once ready, the air commandos were airborne and outbound to Germany.
The Romanian Army also operate M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The main elements of the first long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – HIMARS which will be part of the Romanian Army’s arsenal arrived on February, 2021 in Constanta Port. The equipment and related materials will be taken to the headquarters of the “Maj. Gheorghe Sontu” 81st Tactical Artillery Battalion in Focsani, which will be the first unit of the Rom anian Land Forces to operate this system. (Story by Capt. Kevyn Kaler/352nd Special Operations Wing Public Affairs )