An airlift is the organized delivery of supplies or personnel primarily via military transport aircraft.
Materiel, refers to supplies, equipment, and weapons in military supply chain management, and typically supplies and equipment only in a commercial supply chain context.
Military transport aircraft or military cargo aircraft are typically fixed wing and rotary wing cargo aircraft which are used to airlift troops, weapons and other military equipment by a variety of methods to any area of military operations around the surface of the planet, usually outside the commercial flight routes in uncontrolled airspace. Originally derived from bombers, military transport aircraft were used for delivering airborne forces during World War II and towing military gliders. Some military transport aircraft are tasked to perform multi-role duties such as aerial refueling and rescue missions, tactical, operational and strategic airlifts onto unprepared runways, or those constructed by engineers.
Airlifting consists of two distinct types: strategic and tactical. Typically, strategic airlifting involves moving material long distances (such as across or off the continent or theater), whereas a tactical airlift focuses on deploying resources and material into a specific location with high precision.
Depending on the situation, airlifted supplies can be delivered by a variety of means. When the destination and surrounding airspace is considered secure, the aircraft will land at an appropriate airport or airbase to have its cargo unloaded on the ground. When landing the craft, or distributing the supplies to a certain area from a landing zone by surface transportation is not an option, the cargo aircraft can drop them in mid-flight using parachutes attached to the supply containers in question. When there is a broad area available where the intended receivers have control without fear of the enemy interfering with collection and/or stealing the goods, the planes can maintain a normal flight altitude and simply drop the supplies down and let them parachute to the ground. However, when the area is too small for this method, as with an isolated base, and/or is too dangerous to land in, a Low-altitude parachute-extraction system drop is used.
Airspace is the portion of the atmosphere controlled by a country above its territory, including its territorial waters or, more generally, any specific three-dimensional portion of the atmosphere. It is not the same as aerospace, which is the general term for Earth's atmosphere and the outer space in its vicinity.
An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to store and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. An airport consists of a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface such as a runway for a plane to take off or a helipad, and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals. Larger airports may have airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centres, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services. In some countries, the US in particular, they also typically have one or more fixed-base operators, serving general aviation.
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong fabric, originally silk, now most commonly nylon. They are typically dome-shaped, but vary, with rectangles, inverted domes, and others found. A variety of loads are attached to parachutes, including people, food, equipment, space capsules, and bombs.
During disasters and other crises, airlifts are used to support or replace other transport methods to relieve beleaguered civilian populations. Examples include the Berlin Airlift, to supply isolated West Berlin with food and coal, the 1990 Air India airlift to rescue Indian citizens caught up in the Gulf War, and the 1967–70 Biafran airlift during the Nigerian Civil War.
West Berlin was a political enclave which comprised the western part of Berlin during the years of the Cold War. There was no specific date on which the sectors of Berlin occupied by the Western Allies became "West Berlin", but 1949 is widely accepted as the year in which the name was adopted. West Berlin aligned itself politically with the Federal Republic of Germany and was directly or indirectly represented in its federal institutions.
The 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait was carried out from August 13, 1990 to October 20, 1990 after the Invasion of Kuwait. Air India helped evacuate 175,000 people by civil airliners. The operation was carried out before the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait. Following this operation Air India, the flag carrier Indian airline entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner. Mathunny Mathews, Harbajan Singh Vedi, Abey Varicad, V.K Warrier, Ali Hussain and few others based in Kuwait helped immensely in the evacuation efforts of fellow Indians.
The Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Shield for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes. The war is also known under other names, such as the Persian Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, First Iraq War or Iraq War, before the term "Iraq War" became identified instead with the 2003 Iraq War.
In November 1915 the French squadron MF 99 S, equipped with Farman MF.11, flew wounded soldiers from Serbia through Albania to Corfu. This was the first medevac operation in air history.
The Maurice Farman MF.11 Shorthorn is a French aircraft developed before World War I by the Farman Aviation Works. It was used as a reconnaissance and light bomber during the early part of World War I, later being relegated to training duties.
The Kingdom of Serbia was created when Milan I, ruler of the Principality of Serbia, was proclaimed king in 1882.
The Albanian Republic was the official name of Albania as enshrined in the Constitution of 1925. Albania became a de facto protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy after the signing of the Treaties of Tirana of 1926 and 1927. Albania was declared a constitutional monarchy in 1928. Upon its inception, Italy demanded to be allies with the republic. This was done largely to increase Italy's influence in the Balkans, and to aid Italian and Albanian security in their territorial feuds with the Second Hellenic Republic and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
In April 1923 aircraft of the RAF's Iraq Command flew 280 Sikh troops from Kingarban to Kirkuk in the first British air trooping operation. This operation was only conducted over a short range and it was not until 1929 that the RAF conducted a long-range non-combat air evacuation of British diplomatic staff from Afghanistan to India using a Vickers Victoria during the Kabul Airlift.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.
Iraq Command was the Royal Air Force (RAF) commanded inter-service command in charge of British forces in Iraq in the 1920s and early 1930s, during the period of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. It continued as British Forces in Iraq until 1941 when it was replaced by AHQ Iraq. It consisted of Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, British Army, Commonwealth and locally raised units, commanded by an RAF officer normally of Air Vice-Marshal rank.
Sikhism, or SikhiSikkhī, pronounced [ˈsɪkːʰiː], from Sikh, meaning a "disciple", "seeker," or "learner") is a religion that originated in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent around the end of the 15th century, and has variously been defined as monotheistic, monistic and panentheistic. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions, and the world's fifth largest organized religion, as well as being the world's ninth-largest overall religion. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder's life. In the early 21st century there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in Punjab, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The world's first long-range combat airlift took place from July to October 1936.German Ju 52 and Italian Air Force Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 were used by the Spanish Nationalists to transport troops from Spanish Morocco to Spain at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.
The Italian Air Force is the air force of the Italian Republic. The Italian Air Force was founded as an independent service arm on 28 March 1923 by King Victor Emmanuel III as the Regia Aeronautica. After World War II, when Italy was made a republic by referendum, the Regia Aeronautica was given its current name. Since its formation, the service has held a prominent role in modern Italian military history. The aerobatic display team is the Frecce Tricolori.
The Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 Pipistrello was the first three-engine bomber/transport aircraft serving in the Italian Regia Aeronautica. When it appeared in 1935, it represented a real step ahead in Italian military aviation: it was fast, well armed and had a long range. It proved effective during the war with Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War. Despite being too slow to remain competitive as a bomber in the later years of World War II, it was one of the most flexible, reliable and important aircraft of the Regia Aeronautica from 1935 to 1944, and adapted to second-line duties in a wide range of tasks.
The Spanish Civil War took place from 1936 to 1939. Republicans loyal to the left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, in alliance with the Anarchists and Communists, fought against the Nationalists, a Falangist, Carlist, Catholic, and largely aristocratic group led by General Francisco Franco. The war was known as a struggle between democracy and fascism, particularly due to the international political climate. The fascists won the war in early 1939 and ruled Spain until Franco's death in November 1975.
Airlifts became practical during World War II as aircraft became large and sophisticated enough to handle large cargo demands. The USAAF's Air Transport Command began the largest and longest-sustained airlift of the war in May 1942, delivering more than half a million net tons of materiel from India to China over the Hump by November 1945.
The largest airlift was the Berlin airlift, lasting from June 1948 to September 1949, an American, British and French operation intended to thwart the blockading of the city of Berlin by the Soviet Union.
The largest civilian airlift ever, the Biafran airlift, was carried out by Protestant and Catholic churches working together under the banner "Joint Church Aid" (JCA) to carry food to Biafra, during the Biafran secession war from Nigeria in 1967–70. This joint effort (which those involved used to call "Jesus Christ Airlines" as an inside joke from the initials JCA) is estimated to have saved more than a million lives in Biafra. Most airplanes departed from the (then) Portuguese colony of Sao Tome and Principe to the bush landing strip of Uli, the only operational "airport" in Biafra, which was made by enlarging a common road. Flights were made flying at night with all lights off and under near-total radio silence to avoid Nigerian MiG aircraft. All the airplanes, crews and logistics were paid, set up and maintained by the joint church groups. JCA and their crews and aircraft (mostly aging multiprop airliners like DC-7's, Lockheed Constellation and Superconstellations, DC-6's, and DC3's) kept flying into Biafra at the cost of many crews lives. [ verification needed ]
Strategic airlift is the use of military transport aircraft to transport material, weaponry, or personnel over long distances. Typically, this involves airlifting the required items between two airbases which are not in the same vicinity. This allows commanders to bring items into a combat theater from a point on the other side of the planet, if necessary. Aircraft which perform this role are considered strategic airlifters. This contrasts with tactical airlifters, such as the C-130 Hercules and Transall C-160, which can normally only move supplies within a given theater of operations.
Examples of late 20th/early 21st century large strategic airlifters include:
With present technology it is impossible to shift a substantial mechanised force, particularly tanks, by air. This difficulty has prompted investment in lighter armoured fighting vehicles (such as the Stryker), as well as some preliminary research into alternative airlift technologies such as ground effect vehicles and airships. Civilian aircraft are also commonly used for transportation. For some civilian airlines, such as Miami Air International and Volga-Dnepr Airlines, military contracts account for a large portion of their income.
Tactical airlift is a military term for the airborne transportation of supplies and equipment within a theatre of operations (in contrast to strategic airlift). Aircraft which perform this role are referred to as tactical airlifters. These are typically turboprop aircraft, and feature short landing and take-off distances and low-pressure tires allowing operations from small or poorly prepared airstrips. While they lack the speed and range of strategic airlifters (which are typically jet-powered), these capabilities are invaluable within war zones. Larger helicopters such as the CH-47 Chinook and Mil Mi-26 can also be used to airlift men and equipment. Helicopters have the advantage that they do not require a landing strip and that equipment can often be suspended below the aircraft allowing it to be delivered without landing but are fuel inefficient and thus typically have limited range. Hybrid aircraft such as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey also exist which attempt to combine VTOL flight with greater range and speed.
Tactical airlift aircraft are designed to be maneuverable, allowing low-altitude flight to avoid detection by radar and for the airdropping of supplies. Most are fitted with defensive aids systems to protect them from attack by surface-to-air missiles.
The earliest Soviet tactical airlift occurred in 1929, in which forty men of the Red Army were airlifted to the town of Garm, Tajikistan (then the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic) to repel an attacking force of Basmachi rebels under Fuzail Maksum.
Examples of late 20th/early 21st Century large tactical airlifters include:
Airlifters in service during the late 20th/early 21st Centuries:
|Aircraft||Role||Max. payload (Kg)||Range (NM)||Cruise(Mach)||Ceiling (Ft.)||Price|
|Antonov An-72||Tactical||10,000||1,728 NM||Mach .68||36,089 Ft||$12.5m (est.)|
|C-130J Super Hercules||Tactical||19,050||2,380 NM||Mach .58||33,000 Ft||$ 52m (est.)|
|An-12||Tactical||20,000||1,940 NM||Mach .55||33,000 Ft||—|
|Shaanxi Y-8||Tactical||20,000||3,030 NM||Mach .45||34,000 Ft||—|
|Embraer KC-390||Tactical||23,600||2,924 NM||Mach .70||36,000 Ft||$ 50m (est.)|
|Shaanxi Y-9||Tactical||25,000||3,700 NM||Mach .53||34,120 Ft||—|
|Airbus A400M Atlas||Strategic/tactical||37,000||2,450 NM||Mach .72||37,000 Ft||€ 100m (est.)|
|Kawasaki C-2||Tactical||37,600||3,000 NM||Mach .80||40,000 Ft||$ 120m (est.)|
|Antonov An-70||Tactical||47,000||1,621 NM||Mach .73||40,000 Ft||$ 80m (est.)|
|IL-76MD||Strategic/tactical||48,000||2,380 NM||Mach .70||42,700 Ft||—|
|IL-76MD-90A||Strategic/tactical||60,000||2,700 NM||Mach .70||42,700 Ft||$ 120m (est.)|
|Xian Y-20||Strategic||66,000||2,430 NM||Mach .75||42,700 Ft||—|
|C-17 Globemaster||Strategic/tactical||77,520||2,380 NM||Mach .77||45,000 Ft||$ 225m|
|C-5 Galaxy||Strategic||122,472||2,400 NM||Mach .77||34,000 Ft||$ 168m|
|An-124-100M-150||Strategic||150,000||2,808 NM||Mach .65||35,000 Ft||$70–100m|
|An-225||Strategic||250,000||2,159 NM||Mach .61||33,000 Ft||—|
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The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. It was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The C-17 carries forward the name of two previous piston-engined military cargo aircraft, the Douglas C-74 Globemaster and the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. The C-17 commonly performs tactical and strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo throughout the world; additional roles include medical evacuation and airdrop duties. It was designed to replace the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter, and also fulfill some of the duties of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, freeing the C-5 fleet for outsize cargo.
The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft originally designed and built by Lockheed, and now maintained and upgraded by its successor, Lockheed Martin. It provides the United States Air Force (USAF) with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsized and oversized loads, including all air-certifiable cargo. The Galaxy has many similarities to its smaller Lockheed C-141 Starlifter predecessor, and the later Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. The C-5 is among the largest military aircraft in the world.
The Airbus A300-600ST or Beluga, is a version of the standard A300-600 wide-body airliner modified to carry aircraft parts and oversized cargo. It received the official name of Super Transporter early on; however, the name Beluga, a whale it resembles, gained popularity and has since been officially adopted. The Beluga XL, based on the Airbus A330 with similar modifications and dimensions, is being developed by Airbus to replace the type around 2020.
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a European, four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The A400M is positioned, in terms of size, between the C-130 and the C-17; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130 and is able to use rough landing strips. Along with the transport role, the A400M can perform aerial refuelling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment.
The Antonov An-225 Mriya is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft that was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukrainian SSR within the Soviet Union during the 1980s. It is powered by six turbofan engines and is the heaviest aircraft ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes. It also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service. The single example built has the Ukrainian civil registration UR-82060. A second airframe with a slightly different configuration was partially built. Its construction was halted in 1994 because of lack of funding and interest, but revived briefly in 2009, bringing it to 60–70% completion. On 30 August 2016, Antonov agreed to complete the second airframe for Aerospace Industry Corporation of China as a prelude to AICC commencing series production.
The Antonov An-124 Ruslan is a strategic airlift quadjet. It was designed in the 1980s by the Antonov design bureau in the Ukrainian SSR, then part of the Soviet Union (USSR). Until the Boeing 747-8F, the An-124 was, for thirty years, the world's heaviest gross weight production cargo airplane and second heaviest operating cargo aircraft, behind the one-off Antonov An-225. The An-124 remains the largest military transport aircraft in the world. The lead designer of the An-124 was Viktor Tolmachev.
The Transall C-160 is a military transport aircraft, produced as a joint venture between France and Germany. "Transall" is an abbreviation of the manufacturing consortium Transporter Allianz, comprising the companies of MBB, Aerospatiale and VFW-Fokker. It was initially developed to meet the requirements for a modern transport aircraft for the French and German Air Forces; export sales were also made to South Africa and to Turkey, as well as a small number to civilian operators.
The Antonov An-70 is a four-engine medium-range transport aircraft, and the first aircraft to take flight powered only by propfan engines. It was developed in the late 1980s by the Antonov Design Bureau to replace the obsolete An-12 military transport aircraft. The maiden flight of the first prototype took place in December 1994 in Kiev, now independent Ukraine. Within months the prototype had suffered a mid-air collision. A second airframe was produced to allow the flight-test programme to proceed. Both prototypes were produced by the Kiev Aircraft Production Plant.
A loadmaster is an aircrew member on civilian aircraft or military transport aircraft tasked with the safe loading, transport and unloading of aerial cargoes. Loadmasters serve in the militaries and civilian airlines of many nations.
A cargo aircraft is a fixed-wing aircraft that is designed or converted for the carriage of cargo rather than passengers. Such aircraft usually do not incorporate passenger amenities and generally feature one or more large doors for loading cargo. Freighters may be operated by civil passenger or cargo airlines, by private individuals or by the armed forces of individual countries.
The Lockheed C-141 Starlifter was a military strategic airlifter that served with the Military Air Transport Service (MATS), its successor organization the Military Airlift Command (MAC), and finally the Air Mobility Command (AMC) of the United States Air Force (USAF). The aircraft also served with airlift and air mobility wings of the Air Force Reserve (AFRES), later renamed Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), the Air National Guard (ANG) and, later, one air mobility wing of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) dedicated to C-141, C-5, C-17 and KC-135 training.
The Shaanxi Y-8 or Yunshuji-8 aircraft is a medium size medium range transport aircraft produced by Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation in China, based on the Soviet Antonov An-12. It has become one of China's most popular military and civilian transport/cargo aircraft, with many variants produced and exported. Although the An-12 is no longer made in Ukraine, the Chinese Y-8 continues to be upgraded and produced. An estimated 169 Y-8 aircraft had been built by 2010.
Rhein-Main Air Base was a United States Air Force air base near the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It was a United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) installation, occupying the south side of Frankfurt Airport. Its military airport codes are discontinued. Established in 1945, Rhein-Main Air Base was the primary airlift and passenger hub for United States forces in Europe. It was billed as the "Gateway to Europe". It closed December 30, 2005.
The Military Airlift Command (MAC) is an inactive United States Air Force major command (MAJCOM) that was headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Established on 1 January 1966, MAC was the primary strategic airlift organization of the Air Force until 1974, when Air Force tactical airlift units in the Tactical Air Command (TAC) were merged into MAC to create a unified airlift organization.
São Tomé International Airport is a minor international airport located on São Tomé Island, 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the city of São Tomé. It is the main airport serving São Tomé and Príncipe.
The EADS CASA C-295 is a twin-turboprop tactical military transport aircraft, and is currently manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Spain.
The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a military transport aircraft developed and manufactured by Leonardo's Aircraft Division. It is an advanced derivative of Alenia Aeronautica's earlier G.222, equipped with the engines and various other systems also used on the larger Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. In addition to the standard transport configuration, specialized variants of the C-27J have been developed for maritime patrol, search and rescue, C3 ISR, fire support and electronic warfare and ground-attack missions.
The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The C-130J is a comprehensive update of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, with new engines, flight deck, and other systems. The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. During more than 60 years of service, the family has participated in military, civilian, and humanitarian aid operations. The Hercules has outlived several planned successor designs, most notably the Advanced Medium STOL Transport contestants. As of February 2018, 400 C-130J aircraft have been delivered to 17 nations.
The Biafran Airlift was an international humanitarian relief effort that transported food and medicine to Biafra during the 1967-70 secession war from Nigeria. It was the largest civilian airlift, and after the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, the largest non-combatant airlift of any kind ever carried out. The airlift was largely a series of joint efforts by Protestant and Catholic church groups, and other non-governmental organizations (NGO)s, operating civilian and military aircraft with volunteer (mostly) civilian crews and support personnel. Several national governments also supported the effort, mostly behind the scenes. This sustained joint effort, which lasted one and a half times as long as its Berlin predecessor, is estimated to have saved more than a million lives.