SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – The C-21 community here opened up Hangar 1 March 22 to display their upgraded avionics suite and to unveil its new tail flash design as part of a celebration dubbed “Year of the Lear.”
“Thirty-five years of the Lear is just the beginning,” said Gen. Maryanne Miller, Air Mobility Command commander. “The modifications to this aircraft are going to keep it in our inventory for a long time.”
As the keynote speaker for the celebration, she explained how “transporting America’s senior leaders from strategic engagement to strategic engagement started here 35 years ago and will continue on as Scott’s primary mission.”
She thanked the 375th Air Mobility Wing Airmen for their dedication to the C-21 mission and the avionics upgrade process, and highlighted the collaborative efforts that went into making the new tail flash design. She said that the innovation portrayed by the 458th Airlift Squadron Airmen is something to be proud of.
“These modifications bring innovation to the forefront and keep us on our path to compete, deter, and win across the world,” said Miller. “Whether transporting combatant commanders to testify before Congress, providing airlift during the Haiti recovery operations, or providing operations support airlift to deployed commanders in Southeast Asia, the mighty ‘Cougars’ are a critical link in our transportation network.”
Lt. Col. Brooke Matson, 458th AS commander, said the innovative upgrades are a turning point in the history of avionics.
“Today’s celebration is a watershed moment in operational support airlift, like this fleet of C-21 Learjets,” said Matson. “It’s to celebrate the successes of modernizing our fleet for more ‘Years of Lears’ and upgrading our existing technology to operate in increasingly congested airspace in the future.”
Lt. Col. Paul Strom, 458th assistant director of operations, reiterated why the C-21 celebration was so momentous for the ‘Cougars.’
“It’s kind of a small family at Scott so the privilege of having our MAJCOM commander come out and celebrate with us is emblematic of just how special this is, not just for this small aircraft community, but the AMC as a whole,” said Strom. “It takes us into the next generation of capability from an aircraft perspective and was made possible by a pretty small, diverse team of experts who were very successful with this.”
The avionics upgrades include a new weather radar used to provide more reliable weather information during flight and new equipment to make communication between aircrew and air traffic controllers faster and more accurate for real-time aircraft parameters, explained Maj. Taylor Todd, 375th Operations Group C-21 avionics upgrade transition team lead.
The new tail flash features the St. Louis, Missouri skyline and represents Scott’s strategic central location in the United States. The four stars represent both Scott Field’s mission presented as the “Pentagon of the Midwest” and the four different mission sets of the 458th AS, which include executive airlift, pilot seasoning, aeromedical evacuation and the C-21 schoolhouse.
The event served as an opportunity for Team Scott members to learn more about the C-21 mission and how it will continue to be supported by Scott Airmen for years to come.