The new C-17 Globemaster was unveiled at RAF Brize Norton today by Prime Minister David Cameron. This transport aircraft would greatly bolster the air bridge between UK and front line operations. The Prime Minister met the crew of the aircraft, which has been declared ready for operations and will start flying troops and equipment to the front line at the beginning of February. Prime Minister David Cameron said , “What I am looking at today is the investment that we’re making to make sure that we succeed in Afghanistan, and make sure we have got the very best air bridge between Britain and Afghanistan”.
He further stated , “This aircraft can carry three Apache helicopters, or take a whole Chinook helicopter. It’s a very efficient piece of equipment and it’s very good news that we are investing in this – evidence that we’re giving our armed forces the capability, the flexibility and the mobility that they need to do the job that we ask them to. It’s lovely to be here and say thank you to the people who are here working very hard to make sure the air bridge between Afghanistan and Britain is open and working well”.
The C-17 has huge capacity which means it can carry loads weighing up to 70 tonnes, for example it can transport three Warrior armored vehicles. It will join the six other aircraft that make up the C-17 fleet, which are operated by 99 Squadron at the Oxford shire base. Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox said , “The RAF’s C-17 fleet has provided outstanding service in support of operations and humanitarian relief efforts around the world. The fleet has already clocked up an impressive 65,000 flying hours during its missions. The C-17 is a real workhorse in the RAF fleet.”
The multi-million pound aircraft can fly over 4,500 nautical miles, flying above 30,000 feet to undertake trans-continental flights. It can also fly directly to Helmand Province from the United Kingdom. The C-17 can also be converted rapidly to offer Intensive Care provision. In this role it would provide exceptional support to the Aeromedical Air bridge, with one aircraft on standby 24-hours a day to fly seriously injured personnel back to UK at a short notice. In addition, the aircraft’s have been deployed to help with humanitarian and disaster relief efforts around the world. The C-17 fleet also provided assistance during the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, as well as the Pakistan and Chilean earthquakes.
Air Vice-Marshal Philip Osborn of Air Officer Commanding 2 Group , said “The RAF C-17 fleet, along with the rest of the Air bridge, delivers an incredible capability to our deployed forces on the front line. I am also extremely proud of the outstanding contribution that all our aircraft and personnel are making to continued progress in Afghanistan.”