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UK’s Royal Air Force Flies Canadian Leopard 2 Tank to Support Ukrainian Military

A Canadian military shipment 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, located on the shores of Lake Ontario, and were delivered to the Ukrainian military upon arrival in Europe. This mission was conducted as part of the ATARES program, which provides mutual support for partner nations through an exchange of air transport services. The partnership consists of 28 European and NATO nations, including the UK and Canada.

The RAF’s ongoing work to support Ukraine following the Russian invasion includes the Air Mobility Force moving thousands of tonnes of military assistance for Ukraine from donors around the world. The UK is committed to providing the capabilities Ukraine requires, including artillery, air defense, and armored vehicles, and facilitating international donations of military equipment via the International Donor Coordination Centre.

The C-17 Globemaster is capable of rapid, strategic delivery of troops and cargo to main operating bases worldwide. It can transport 100,000lb (45,360kg) of freight over 4,500nm (8,334km) while flying at altitudes above 35,000ft. Its load-bearing rear ramp and digitally controlled loading systems, along with the skills of its crews and ground handlers, enable it to transport large and complex items of equipment, such as Chinook helicopters, military vehicles, and other heavy items of specialist kit. Its design also allows it to operate into small, austere airfields and onto runways as short as 3,500ft long and just 90ft wide.

The RAF previously relied on civilian-operated aircraft for the movement of such loads until it agreed on a seven-year “lease and support” contract with Boeing and the US Air Force for four C-17A Globemaster III strategic transports in 2000. This decision was made to fill the capability gap left since the Short Belfast was withdrawn in 1976.

On August 28, 1981, the USAF selected 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.

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