CC-177 delivers supplies to Jamaica

IS2007-9010-0007Image by Sgt. Kevin MacAulay, CF Combat Camera

Our brand-new CC-177 Globemaster III flew its first operational mission last week, delivering supplies to Jamaica for the victims of Hurricane Dean:

“By using our new C-17, Canada’s New Government is responding today to the humanitarian emergency in Jamaica with a large shipment of emergency aid supplies,” said Minister Oda. “The 32 tons of supplies, such as tarps, jerricans and buckets that we are sending will bring much-needed relief to the victims of Hurricane Dean.”

“Today’s shipment of such a large quantity of supplies across this long distance would not have been possible without our new C-17 Canadian Forces aircraft,” said Minister MacKay.  “I am proud that we now have this capability, and the Canadian Forces can contribute toward this important relief effort and helping to alleviate the human suffering caused by Hurricane Dean.”

— DND/CF, “Canada Sends New C-17 to Jamaica with Supplies for the Victims of Hurricane Dean“, August 23rd, 2007.

This is what you can do with the right tools for the job.  And there are sound reasons for employing a Globemaster, and not some other type of airlifter.  Useful to keep in mind when a skeptic starts spouting nonsense about how the C-17 is an unnecessary purchase, and how these missions can be accomplished by other craft.

For the record, yes, a CC-150 Polaris can accommodate this payload.  However, a Polaris (like all commercial aircraft) requires specific cargo loading/unloading equipment known as a K-loader.  It’s actually pictured above (the thing the camo-clad loaders are standing on), during the upload process at CFB Trenton.

The K-loader has to raise itself up to cargo door height, take on a couple pallets or containers, lower itself to ground level, and then something else (like a 10,000lb forklift) has to come grab the pallets and shuffle them off to a cargo receiving area.  Then the K-loader raises itself again and grabs the next few pallets.  Rinse and repeat until the payload is offloaded.  If it sounds slow and boring, that’s because it is.

Palletised payloads, however, can be directly downloaded from the C-17’s rear ramp by a 10,0o0lb forklift without any K-loader involvement.  The C-17 could actually carry its own forklift from the airfield of origin to the destination, and offload that first via the rear ramp.  So even if your destination has no cargo-handling capability whatsoever, you can still bring your own.  There’s many sound reasons for using the Globemaster rather than the Polaris.

The CC-130H Hercules would also be an unsuitable choice for this mission.  Moving thirteen 463L pallets (32 tons in total) from from CFB Trenton to Kingston, Jamaica, requires three aircraft—H-mod Hercs can only carry six pallets at a time—or one aircraft making three return trips.  The CC-130 also has a rear ramp however, so it too can be offloaded by a forklift.

Each Herc carries a crew of five—2 pilots, 1 navigator, 1 flight engineer, and 1 loadmaster.  That’s fifteen people to move these pallets, or a week of duty days for a single aircrew.  The Herc would make each 1,568nm trip in 6 hours—that’s 12 hours including the return trip.  So for a single CC-130H aircraft to move these 13 pallets, it would require three 12-hour trips, or three aircraft making a single 12-hour return flight.  Not including ground handling, offload and refueling times.

In contrast, a single CC-177 can fly all 13 pallets to Jamaica in 3 hours, 49 minutes, using a single aircrew of three (2 pilots, 1 loadmaster).  And it can carry sufficient fuel for the entire journey.  Tack on the return trip and you have the entire mission completed in just under 8 hours, not including ground handling and offload times.

Remind me why the CC-177 isn’t the best choice in this scenario?

Cross-posted to The Torch.

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2 Responses
  1. Alan says:

    I just like knowing I/we are masters of the globe now.

  2. Cool new airlift capability in use

    Chris Taylor discusses why the newest military transport aircraft in the Canadian Forces is a good thing to have: Each Herc carries a crew of five 2 pilots, 1 navigator, 1 flight engineer, and 1 loadmaster. That’s fifteen people…