Aircrews from the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 711th Special Operations Squadron departed the Duke Field flightline Dec. 15, 2022, in four C-145A Combat Coyote aircraft for the last time after 10 years of service to Air Force Special Operations Command. When the aircraft returned, aviators, loadmasters, and ground crew alike all gathered to respectfully mark the end of an era. The Combat Coyote’s landed in sequence and proceeded in tight formation down the taxiiway as if to offer one final show for the small group of awaiting spectators. The 919th Special Operations Wing began utilizing the Combat Coyote in 2012. Combat Aviation Advisors from the 711th SOS used the aircraft to maintain proficiency prior to instructing partner nation aircrew on a wide range of advanced aviation tactics. Instructors from the 5th Special Operations Squadron Detachment 1 at Duke Field trained U.S. Air Force pilots on the aircraft for Air Force Special Operations Command.
“There weren’t many other aircraft in the Air Force like this one. These guys loved this airplane, it really stood out from the crowd. The only constant in the Air Force is change. The people that flew the C-145 enjoyed it. It was a nice aircraft to have for a while, but I’m looking forward to the next one,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Bobby Barton, former senior enlisted leader of the 919th Special Operations Group.
“Today’s flight was a little bitter sweet. It’s been a great aircraft to fly, the Wolfhound was good to us while it lasted. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this airframe. We learned to appreciate it, but it’s time to move on to the next aircraft,” said Maj. Kristoffer Williams, 711th SOS chief of safety.
Although it was not used for overseas deployments in recent years, the Combat Coyote’s provided a tactical mobility advantage to missions downrange when they were initially purchased by the command. They could make short landings and takeoffs, ideal for rural, undeveloped airfields and cargo delivery to forward operating bases. The 919th SOW was the last wing operating the airframe, officially retiring it from the U.S. Air Force. Citizen Air Commandos and their families gathered on the flightline to watch the planes land and congratulate pilots on the final flight. The wing has a historical precedent of adapting to the needs of the Air Force. The 919th SOW previously retired the beloved AC-130H Spectre and the MC-130E Combat Talon I. As it has in years past, the wing is prepared to transform to meet the future needs of Air Force Special Operations Command.
The C-145A’s primary role is to enable CAA special air mobility Airmen to conduct U.S. Special Operations Command’s Aviation Foreign Internal Defense and Aviation Security Cooperation missions. The C-145A aircraft was originally procured in 2009 to conduct non-standard aviation special air mobility missions. In 2010, AFSOC selected the C-145A to be operated primarily by CAAs. The C-145A is a twin-engine, high-wing aircraft with twin vertical fins and a non-retractable tricycle landing gear capable of short takeoff and landings to unprepared runways. The C-145A is reconfigurable to support both air, land and airdrop of cargo (max 2,400 pounds) and personnel, casualty evacuation, combat search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. The C-145A can carry a maximum of 16 passengers or 10 combat rigged paratroopers. Maximum cargo weight is 5,000 pounds, or up to four litter patients. Missions can be conducted to prepared and semi-prepared airfields.