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RAF’s C-17 Airlifter Delivers Canadian Leopard 2 Tank to Aid Ukraine Defense

A Canadian military supply delivery, destined for use by the Ukrainian military, was transported to Europe by a Royal Air Force C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft on behalf of the Canadian Government. The supplies were picked up from the Trenton Canadian Forces Base on the shores of Lake Ontario and flown by 99 Squadron aircraft from RAF Brize Norton as part of the ATARES program. This program facilitates mutual support between partner nations through an exchange of air transport services and includes 28 European and NATO nations, including the UK and Canada. On arrival in Europe, the equipment was delivered to the Ukrainian military.

The RAF’s Air Mobility Force has been conducting ongoing work as part of the UK Government’s support to Ukraine following the Russian invasion. The Air Mobility Force has moved thousands of tonnes of military assistance for Ukraine from donors around the world. The UK has been taking a leading role in facilitating international donations of military equipment via the International Donor Coordination Centre, providing capabilities including artillery, air defence, and armoured vehicles to Ukraine, and driving further international donations to secure lasting peace.

The C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft is capable of rapid, strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases worldwide. The aircraft’s load-bearing rear ramp and digitally controlled loading systems, combined with the skills of its crews and ground handlers, enable large, complex items of equipment to be loaded. It can transport 100,000lb (45,360kg) of freight over 4,500nm (8,334km) while flying at altitudes above 35,000ft, and its design allows high-angle, steep approaches at relatively slow speeds, enabling it to operate into small, austere airfields and onto runways as short as 3,500ft long and just 90ft wide.

The Royal Air Force had been without an organic outsize strategic lift capability since the Short Belfast was withdrawn in 1976 and relied on civilian-operated Belfasts for the movement of such loads during the 1982 Falklands War. By the end of the 1990s, it became clear that this capability gap needed to be filled. In 2000, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) agreed on a seven-year “lease and support” contract with Boeing and the US Air Force (USAF) for four C-17A Globemaster III (Globemaster C-17) strategic transports.

The USAF had chosen the McDonnell Douglas C-17 as the winner of its C-X competition for a new military transport aircraft primarily to replace the Lockheed C-141 StarLifter on August 28, 1981.

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