Air Vice-Marshal Malcolm Brecht, Chief of Staff Capability at Air Command, explains why the relationship between the Royal Air Force and Industry underpins the C-17’s success
“The first RAF C-17 Globemaster, the Service’s long range strategic heavy-lift transport aircraft, was delivered a year and a day from the date the decision was made to lease four of these aircraft in 2000. Since then, the capability has been in constant demand. By 'capability', I am not just referring to the aircraft itself; I mean the support, training, equipment and the people who are at the very heart of delivering a successful capability.
“What you see depends on where you’ve sat – and, having been the first Commanding Officer of the UK's C-17s and now serving as the lead for delivering new capability and for capability development, I have seen at first-hand how the relationship between the Royal Air Force and Industry needs to be a mutually beneficial partnership to overcome the inevitable challenges we face together.
“The relationships behind the unquestioned success of the C-17 have been pivotal, and have enabled the Royal Air Force to meet the constant demand for the aircraft. Rarely seen but nearly always there, the C-17 has deployed, sustained and recovered people and freight since 2001 in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It has acted as a hospital when recovering the injured from Operations and Exercises for critical care in Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham, and it has enabled the repatriation of those killed on Operations.
“It has been central in so many events, including carrying the rescue submarine to the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East to rescue Russian submariners from certain death in 2005. This resulted in one of the pilots being presented with a medal by President Putin in Number 10 Downing Street as a mark of thanks.
“The C-17 has provided humanitarian and operational assistance around the world, including after the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, aiding those affected by flooding in Pakistan in 2011, and recovering British nationals from Juba during unrest in South Sudan in 2013 - as well as supporting the French by taking equipment and troops to Mali, and bringing home from Africa the aid workers affected by Ebola in 2014.
“C-17s provide a vital link between Britain and UK forces across the globe, and they respond to calls from the emergency services, other government departments and our allies and partners, enabling and supporting operations and humanitarian assistance whenever and wherever required. The C-17 and those who support and operate it inspire me, because they are the unsung heroes who represent the very best of a modern expeditionary Royal Air Force”.
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