The RAF's newest C-17 aircraft has completed its first operational mission to Afghanistan, delivering essential supplies to the front line.
The aircraft, which was unveiled by the Prime Minister in January this year, delivered over 25 tonnes of Hellfire missiles, rifle ammunition, aircraft spares and air conditioning units to Camp Bastion. RAF movements staff then rapidly dispatched the important cargo to British forces across Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
This latest multi-million pound aircraft brings the number of aircraft in the RAF’s C-17 fleet to seven.
The C-17’s huge capacity means it can carry loads of up to 70 tonnes - for example, three Warrior armoured vehicles or three Apache helicopters. The C-17 has the ability to deliver heavy and outsized loads into remote airfields with short and narrow runways at night using night-vision goggles - an indispensable critical capability. Its range of over 4,500 miles (7,200km) provides the RAF with global reach to support operations anywhere in the world.
The seven aircraft are operated by 99 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Officer Commanding 99 Squadron, Wing Commander David Manning, said:
It is immensely rewarding for air and ground crew of 99 Squadron to know that these crucial supplies are reaching our personnel on the front line - from ammunition for the front line soldier to take the fight to the Taliban, to aircraft spares for technicians keeping helicopters flying.
This C-17 is already enhancing our support to the Afghanistan’s operational freight and passenger airbridge, while continuing to provide 24-hour aeromedical standby for our troops. The seventh C-17 is a welcome addition to a fleet which is in constant demand.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, Chief of the Air Staff, said:
The RAF’s C-17 aircraft are an incredibly capable and flexible workhorse in the RAF fleet. They form part of the critical airbridge link to Afghanistan and deliver a valuable capability to our deployed forces on the front line.
The RAF’s seventh aircraft brings added flexibility and increased capability to our extremely hardworking air transport fleet. I am immensely proud of the outstanding contribution that all our aircraft and people are making to continued progress in Afghanistan.