Evolving threats could alter civil aircraft operations


JUST IN: Changing threat environments could alter civil aircraft operations

Evacuees from Afghanistan board a Delta Airlines flight, part of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 30, 2021.

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. sergeant. Donald Darnec

Where commercial airlines are sent to assist the U.S. military in operations is subject to change, a U.S. Transportation Command official told reporters Oct. 7.

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet, or CRAF, is a program that allows US airline aircraft to work under contract with the Department of Defense. The program bolsters the department’s airlift capabilities by utilizing commercial aircraft when the need for airlift exceeds Army capacity. As of August 2021, there were 450 planes from 24 different airlines that made up CRAF, according to an Air Force fact sheet.

But as the United States turns its attention to threat environments outside the Middle East, Major General Corey Martin, director of operations for US Transportation Command, said where the military would send its partners commercial airlines would also be different.

“It’s not really a shift in relationships as much as threat levels dictate where commercial airliners can go,” he told a Defense Writers Group event.

Martin emphasized that no matter what operation it is involved in, CRAF will always work in low threat areas. He said the decision of where to send commercial aircraft will be based on how far away from the United States can it operate and where can it best operate without the defensive advantages of military aircraft.

Martin also added that the final decision on where commercial planes are sent rests with the airlines themselves and that carriers have the option of refusing an operation if they deem it unsafe.

In August, CRAF was activated to help the State Department evacuate U.S. citizens, personnel, and others at risk from Afghanistan — an operation Martin hailed as “an extension of a strong relationship.” with the military’s trading partners. During the operation, 18 commercial aircraft assisted US Transportation Command in moving passengers out of Kabul.

Topics: Air power, civilian manpower, transport, logistics


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