RAF Prepares To Receive Fifth C-17 Aircraft – Friday 22 February 2008
General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, Chief of Defence Materiel, attended the ‘Fly Away’ ceremony for the UK’s fifth C-17 aircraft, known as UK5. The ceremony at Long Beach also included the ‘major join’ of UK6, which involved joining the wings to the main body of the aircraft.
He then flew on UK5 to San Antonio, Texas, where the finishing touches will be added, before it arrives at its final home of 99 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton, in April 2008. UK6 is due to be delivered in June 2008.
Before departing for the ceremony, General O’Donoghue said:
“This is a significant milestone. A fifth C-17 will increase our ability to transport troops and heavy equipment quickly to operations, boosting vital military logistics capability. The aircraft’s performance and durability on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is outstanding.”
Since entering service in mid-2001, the UK C-17 fleet has been continuously employed in support of ongoing coalition operations, routine tasking and humanitarian relief. The C-17 can carry the equivalent of three Warrior armoured vehicles, thirteen Land Rovers, one Chinook, or three Apache gunships. It enables the RAF to get the right equipment to theatre rapidly.
As well as being able to carry loads of up to 75 tonnes and fly long distances of up to 2,400 miles, the C-17′s ability to land on unpaved airfields in remote, land-locked regions make it a versatile transport aircraft, equally suited for a variety of missions.
In July 2006 approval was given for procurement of the four C-17 aircraft at the end of the lease in 2008. An additional contract was signed with Boeing in August 2006 for the procurement of a fifth C-17 aircraft. On 26 July 2007 the Secretary of State for Defence announced the intention to procure a sixth C-17 aircraft to reinforce the air bridge into current operations. The C-17 Project (Lease, Purchase and Support) value is in the order of Â£2 billion.