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Paratroopers with the 435th Contingency Response Group jump onto the drop zone at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. The jump was part of Agile Wolf, an exercise conducted by the 435th Contingency Response Squadron at Ramstein to improve its ability to support the 37th Airlift Squadron throughout Europe and Africa.
Paratroopers with the 435th Contingency Response Group jump onto the drop zone at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. The jump was part of Agile Wolf, an exercise conducted by the 435th Contingency Response Squadron at Ramstein to improve its ability to support the 37th Airlift Squadron throughout Europe and Africa. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Paratroopers with the 435th Contingency Response Group jump onto the drop zone at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. The jump was part of Agile Wolf, an exercise conducted by the 435th Contingency Response Squadron at Ramstein to improve its ability to support the 37th Airlift Squadron throughout Europe and Africa.
Paratroopers with the 435th Contingency Response Group jump onto the drop zone at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. The jump was part of Agile Wolf, an exercise conducted by the 435th Contingency Response Squadron at Ramstein to improve its ability to support the 37th Airlift Squadron throughout Europe and Africa. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, drops paratroopers with the 435th Contingency Response Group over Ramstein's drop zone on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, as part of the Agile Wolf exercise. The Ramstein-based jumpers have been using the Ramstein drop zone more due to coronavirus-imposed limitations on travel.
A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, drops paratroopers with the 435th Contingency Response Group over Ramstein's drop zone on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, as part of the Agile Wolf exercise. The Ramstein-based jumpers have been using the Ramstein drop zone more due to coronavirus-imposed limitations on travel. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Airmen with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron practice loading a combat all-terrain vehicle into the back of an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The training was part of the squadron's Agile Wolf exercise.
Airmen with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron practice loading a combat all-terrain vehicle into the back of an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The training was part of the squadron's Agile Wolf exercise. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Airmen with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron gather around an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The helicopter flew from Katterbach Army Airfield for the Agile Wolf exercise.
Airmen with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron gather around an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The helicopter flew from Katterbach Army Airfield for the Agile Wolf exercise. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Patches adorn the uniform of an airman with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron. The squadron is part of the only expeditionary, open-the-base force in U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa.
Patches adorn the uniform of an airman with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron. The squadron is part of the only expeditionary, open-the-base force in U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A small motorcycle is seen next to an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter parked on a ramp at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, during the Agile Wolf exercise. The motorcycle is one piece of equipment the 435th Contingency Response Squadron at Ramstein may take with it when opening a base somewhere.
A small motorcycle is seen next to an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter parked on a ramp at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, during the Agile Wolf exercise. The motorcycle is one piece of equipment the 435th Contingency Response Squadron at Ramstein may take with it when opening a base somewhere. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Burke, an airfield manager and jumpmaster with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, covered up with a face mask during the Agile Wolf exercise this week at Ramstein. The squadron had to tweak some of its training due to the coronavirus pandemic but included more training with local units.
Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Burke, an airfield manager and jumpmaster with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, covered up with a face mask during the Agile Wolf exercise this week at Ramstein. The squadron had to tweak some of its training due to the coronavirus pandemic but included more training with local units. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Before the coronavirus upended routines around the world, airmen with the 435th Contingency Response Squadron would use a field near the German city of Worms or a drop zone in France to stay current on parachute jump requirements.

But in the past couple of months, restrictions have meant they’ve often used Ramstein’s airfield for jumps.

“We’ve done this about four or five times since COVID-19 started,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Burke, an airfield manager with the squadron and a senior-rated jumpmaster. “This is a perishable skill.”

Parachuting over Ramstein kicked off the Agile Wolf exercise Tuesday, allowing the squadron to practice with other units its core missions of opening air bases and supporting mobility aircraft across Europe and Africa.

Agile Wolf, the third exercise of its kind since December, had to be tweaked because of the pandemic.

Airmen set up generators and pitched tents near the squadron building to simulate a deployed location, but no one spent the night in the makeshift outpost, said Maj. Brad Seehawer, the 435th CRS acting operations officer.

Plans were canceled to bring in contractors from France to “pretend to shoot us so we can pretend to shoot back,” Seehawer said.

Instead, the squadrons looked to soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, who flew a CH-47 Chinook from Katterbach Army Airfield near Ansbach to Ramstein.

At Ramstein, airmen practiced loading and rigging the heavy-lift helicopter with equipment they might need at an austere or contested airfield, including an all-terrain combat vehicle and a small motorcycle for patrols, as well as rations and other essential items.

“We have the ability to deploy on a helicopter,” Seehawer said. “We just don’t get a lot of practice with it.”

The exercise, which runs through Thursday, will also allow airmen to practice hot-pit refueling, in which F-16 fighter jets from Spangdahlem will land at Ramstein and get fuel without stopping their engines. A team of airmen from the 435th also will drive to Spangdahlem and direct a Ramstein C-130 to land using mobile navigation tools.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com Twitter: @stripesktown

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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