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​A Montana Air National Guard C-130 Hercules deploys a training cargo load onto an unused runway at the Great Falls International Airport, July 22, 2015. Montana Air National Guard photo by SMSgt. Eric Peterson.

​Malmstrom AFB, Mont., recently opened a new C-130 cargo drop zone to provide the Montana Air National Guard's 120th Airlift Wing a nearby, unrestricted area for airdrop training. The unit was restricted to dropping lightweight bundles over its home base at Great Falls International Airport due to safety reasons, forcing C-130s to fly further afield to train with operationally representative pallet loads. "The new drop zone will aid with training flight crews as the Montana ANG unit continues its conversion to the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft mission, and is a cost-saving alternative to existing drop zones located near Helena and Townsend," officials stated in a release. The new drop zone, located adjacent to Malmstrom's closed runway, will not interfere with the base's UH-1N helicopter operations and will ultimately "save man hours, equipment, wear and tear," and keep support personnel off dangerous winter roads. The unit flew its first C-130 sortie after converting from the F-15C/D last June.