This is the 35th entry in the Armed with Science series, Dispatches from Antarctica. The series features Air Force Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan’s first-hand experiences on OPERATION: DEEP FREEZE, the Defense Department’s support of National Science Foundation research in Antarctica.
As depicted in the above photo, solid-fuel rockets are sometimes used to help LC-130s takeoff from remove sites in Antarctica. This is known as jet assisted takeoff or JATO.
Misfired or defective JATO fuel bottles must be detonated prior to removal from Antarctica to permit recycling. The JATO explosive disposal team consists of both U.S. Antarctic Program and U.S. Air Force military personnel.
In the first of two videos, you’ll get an inside look at how the JATO explosive disposal team operates. At about 1:30, an EOD team shouts “fire in the hole” three times prior to detonation. All debris is then cleaned up and safely returned to the U.S. for proper recycling. Thanks to Chief Master Sergeant Connie Hoffman, Joint Task Force – Support Forces Antarctica, for this interesting footage.
In the second video, an LC-130 performs a JATO takeoff from the Antarctic ice using solid-fuel rocket engines. JATO helps the aircraft overcome surface friction. Thanks to Col. Gary James, Commander, 109th Operations Group, New York Air National Guard, for this great footage.