Airlift

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A large military cargo aircraft: the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy C5 galaxy.jpg
A large military cargo aircraft: the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
The Airbus A400M Atlas, the transport/tanker aircraft of many European countries Airbus A400M Rollout.JPG
The Airbus A400M Atlas, the transport/tanker aircraft of many European countries
Antonov An-124 Ruslan loading a container for the Dutch military An124lift.jpg
Antonov An-124 Ruslan loading a container for the Dutch military

An airlift is the organized delivery of supplies or personnel primarily via military transport aircraft.

Materiel military technology and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management

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 Aircraft designed to carry military cargo and personnel

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.

Contents

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 portion of the atmosphere controlled by a country above its territory

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.

Airport location where aircraft take off and land

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.

Parachute device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere

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 political enclave that existed between 1949 and 1990

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.

1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait

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.

Gulf War 1990–1991 war between Iraq and Coalition Forces

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.

History

1979 film by the US Department of Defense about important historical airlifts

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. [1] [2]

Farman MF.11 reconnaissance and light bomber aircraft

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.

Kingdom of Serbia 1882-1918 kingdom in Southeastern Europe

The Kingdom of Serbia was created when Milan I, ruler of the Principality of Serbia, was proclaimed king in 1882.

Albanian Republic 1925-1928 sovereign state in Europe, predecessor of modern Albania

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.

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

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. [3] 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.

Italian Air Force Air warfare branch of Italys armed forces

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.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 medium bomber

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.

Spanish Civil War War between the Republicans and the Nationalists in Spain from 1936 to 1939

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. [4] [ verification needed ]

Strategic airlift

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III C17.globemaster.arp.jpg
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
ERC 90 Sagaie loading into a French Transall C-160. Aerotransport ERC90.jpg
ERC 90 Sagaie loading into a French Transall C-160.

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

CH-47 Chinook demonstrating airlift capabilities. Chinookairlift.jpg
CH-47 Chinook demonstrating airlift capabilities.

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. [5]

Examples of late 20th/early 21st Century large tactical airlifters include:

Airlifter comparison

Airlifters in service during the late 20th/early 21st Centuries:

AircraftRoleMax. payload (Kg)Range (NM)Cruise(Mach) Ceiling (Ft.)Price
Antonov An-72 [7] Tactical10,0001,728 NMMach .6836,089 Ft$12.5m (est.)
C-130J Super Hercules [8] Tactical19,0502,380 NMMach .5833,000 Ft$ 52m (est.)
An-12 Tactical20,0001,940 NMMach .5533,000 Ft
Shaanxi Y-8 Tactical20,0003,030 NMMach .4534,000 Ft
Embraer KC-390 Tactical23,6002,924 NMMach .7036,000 Ft$ 50m (est.)
Shaanxi Y-9 Tactical25,0003,700 NMMach .5334,120 Ft
Airbus A400M Atlas Strategic/tactical37,0002,450 NMMach .7237,000 Ft€ 100m (est.)
Kawasaki C-2 Tactical37,6003,000 NMMach .8040,000 Ft$ 120m (est.)
Antonov An-70 Tactical47,0001,621 NMMach .7340,000 Ft$ 80m (est.)
IL-76MDStrategic/tactical48,0002,380 NMMach .7042,700 Ft
IL-76MD-90AStrategic/tactical60,0002,700 NMMach .7042,700 Ft$ 120m (est.)
Xian Y-20 Strategic66,0002,430 NMMach .7542,700 Ft
C-17 Globemaster Strategic/tactical77,5202,380 NMMach .7745,000 Ft$ 225m
C-5 Galaxy Strategic122,4722,400 NMMach .7734,000 Ft$ 168m
An-124-100M-150Strategic150,0002,808 NMMach .6535,000 Ft$70–100m
An-225 Strategic250,0002,159 NMMach .6133,000 Ft

See also

References and notes

  1. Albin, Denis. "Escadrille 525". L'histoire de l'aviation militaire française (in French). Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  2. "Veliki rat – Avijacija". Radio Television of Serbia (in Serbian). 8 February 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  3. Per photograph caption pg.146 and also text pg.201, Air Power, Budiansky, Stephen, Penguin Group, London England 2005
  4. Shadows: airlift and airwar in Biafra and Nigeria 1967–1970, by Michael I. Draper ( ISBN   1-902109-63-5)
  5. Tucker, Spencer, 2013. Encyclopedia of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency: A New Era of Modern Warfare: A New Era of Modern Warfare. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. https://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A3973C
  6. The Airbus Military A400M, a tactical airlifter, blurs the line between tactical and strategic transports. Airbus stresses its tactical performance but also its strategic capabilities; higher payload, higher range and higher speed than the Hercules, although not as high as the C-17. The table below demonstrates this status, the A400 occupying a "middle ground" between the C-130 and the C-17.
  7. Pike, John. "C-130J Specifications and Performance". www.globalsecurity.org.

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Lockheed C-5 Galaxy American heavy military transport aircraft

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Airbus A400M Atlas Multi-national four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft

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Antonov An-225 <i>Mriya</i> Soviet/Ukraine six–engine heavy strategic airlifter

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Antonov An-124 Ruslan Soviet/Ukraine four–engine large military transport aircraft

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Transall C-160 French-German military transport aircraft

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Antonov An-70 Ukrainian/Russian military transport aircraft prototype by Antonov

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Loadmaster Aircrew member responsible for managing cargo during loading and in-flight.

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Lockheed C-141 Starlifter American heavy military transport aircraft from Lockheed

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Shaanxi Y-8 Military transport aircraft

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Rhein-Main Air Base

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Military Airlift Command 1941-1992 United States Air Force major command

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EADS CASA C-295 Military transport aircraft

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Alenia C-27J Spartan Military transport aircraft

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Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules Military transport aircraft

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Biafran airlift

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.