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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Military transport aircraft are typically fixed and rotary wing cargo aircraft which are used to deliver 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 of the commercial flight routes in uncontrolled airspace. Originally derived from bombers, military transport aircraft were used for delivering airborne forces during the Second World War and towing military gliders. Some military transport aircraft are tasked to performs multi-role duties such as aerial refueling and, tactical, operational and strategic airlifts onto unprepared runways, or those constructed by engineers.

Contents

Fixed wing transport, tanker, cargo airlift, and utility aircraft

Fixed wing transport aircraft are largely defined in terms of their range capability as strategic airlift, airlift and tactical airlift to reflect the needs of the land forces which they most often support. These roughly correspond to the commercial flight length distinctions:

Short-haul flight: <3 hours
Medium-haul flight: 3 to 6 hours
Long-haul flight: >6 hours

A more specialised role of a cargo aircraft is that of transporting fuel in support of other aircraft with more limited flight endurance such as fighters or helicopters. Smaller cargo aircraft, known as "utility", are often used to transport military communications equipment as temporary or permanent platforms, and in the command role by providing airborne command post or as an air ambulance.

The Il-76 'Candid'

Military airlift transports and cargo aircraft

Manufacturer Model first flight max Payload (t) Cruise (km/h) max range (km) MTOW
Airbus A400M 2009 37 780 9,300 141
Alenia C-27J 2008 11.5 583 5,926 31.8
Antonov An-12 1957 20 777 5,700 61
Antonov An-22 1965 80 740 5,000 250
Antonov An-72 1977 7.5 600 4,800 33
Antonov An-124 'Ruslan' 1982 150 800-850 5,410 405
Antonov An-225 1988 250 800 15,400 600
Douglas C-47 1943 3 360 2,600 10.5
Grumman C-1 Trader 1952 462 2,092 13.2
Grumman C-2 Greyhound 1964 4.5 465 2,400 24.7
de Havilland Canada C-7 Caribou 1958 348 2,103 14.2
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III 1991 77.5 830 4,482 265
Fairchild C-123 Provider 1949 367 1,666 27
CASA C-212 Aviocar 1971 2.8 315 1,433 8
CASA/Indonesian Aerospace CN-235 1983 509 5,003 15.1
CASA C-295 1998 9.3 481 5,630 23.2
Embraer C-390 2009 19 900 6.200 72
Ilyushin Il-76 1971 47 900 4,400 210
Kawasaki C-1 1970 11.9 657 1,300 45
Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy 1968 122 907 4,445 381
Lockheed C-130 Hercules 1954 20 540 3,800 70.3
Lockheed C-141 Starlifter 1963 912 9,880 147
Transport Allianz Transall C-160 1963 16 513 1,850 49.2
Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey 1989 6.8 396 1,627 27.4
AVIC Y-9 2008 25 650 7,800 77

Commercial and tanker aircraft

Commercial aircraft used in military role

Military aerial refuelling tankers

Luftwaffe Airbus A310 MRTT ready for refuelling

Retired military transport and utility aircraft

Experimental fixed wing cargo aircraft

Transport helicopters

Kazak Mi-17 helicopter, some members of the Mil Mi-8 family can carry both a substantial disposable warload and embarked troops
CH 53 with possible internal load
CH-21C with 105mm howitzer as an under-slung load

Military transport helicopters are used in places where the use of conventional aircraft is impossible. For example the military transport helicopter is the primary transport asset of US Marines deploying from LHDs and LHA. The landing possibilities of helicopter are almost unlimited, and where landing is impossible, for example densely packed jungle, the ability of the helicopter to hover allows troops to deploy by abseiling and roping.

Transport helicopters are operated in assault, medium and heavy classes. Air assault helicopters are usually the smallest of the transport types, and designed to move an infantry section and their equipment. Helicopters in the assault role are generally armed for self protection both in transit and for suppression of the landing zone. This armament may be in the form of door gunners, or the modification of the helicopter with stub wings and pylons for the carriage of missiles and rocket pods. For example the Sikorsky S-70 fitted with the ESSM (External Stores Support System) and the Hip E variant of the Mil Mi-8 can carry as much disposable armament as some dedicated attack helicopters. The assault helicopter can be thought of as the modern successor to the military glider.

Not all militaries are able to operate a full range of transport helicopters so the medium transport type as the most useful compromise is probably the most common specialist transport type. Medium transport helicopters are generally capable of moving up to a platoon of infantry and are capable of being able to transport towed artillery or light vehicles either internally or as under-slung roles. Unlike the assault helicopter they are usually not expected to land directly in a contested landing zone, but are used to reinforce and resupply landing zones taken by the initial assault wave. Examples include the unarmed versions of the Mil Mi-8, the Super Puma and the CH-46 Sea Knight.

Heavy lift helicopters are the largest and most capable of the transport types, currently limited in service to the CH-53 Sea Stallion the related CH-53E Super Stallion, CH-47 Chinook, Mil Mi-26 and Aérospatiale Super Frelon. Capable of lifting up to 80 troops and moving small AFVs (usually as slung loads but also internally). These helicopters operate in the tactical transport role in much the same way as small fixed wing turboprop air-lifters. The lower speed, range and increased fuel consumption of helicopters being more than compensated by their ability to operate anywhere.

See also


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