The RAF's Number 99 Squadron has taken the next step in developing the C-17’s Semi Prepared Runway Operations (SPRO) capability during training in Louisiana, USA.
SRPO is a latent capability of the C-17, which involves operating from runways constructed from non-permanent materials, such as gravel, dirt or even packed ice and snow.
While training in the US, the entire crew experienced the complexities of operating in such an environment and learnt how to prepare aircraft and personnel for safe delivery.
The RAF said developing the UK’s C-17 SPRO allows them to “exploit” the existing capability, and gives the UK “flexibility to provide a rapid military response where it is needed in conflict or during humanitarian aid operations anywhere in the world".
The C-17 was built to carry outsized loads, which could not be carried by a C-130 and to reach strategic distances that cannot be accessed by a Voyager.
The 99 Sqn has a fleet of eight C-17s, all based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
The heavy-lift transport planes are capable of carrying troops, Chinook helicopters and vast amounts of humanitarian aid to locations not normally accessible to an aircraft their size.
C-17s take part in combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions across the globe, and can transport 45,360kg of freight more than 8,334km.
99 Squadron provided support to Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, Operation Telic during Gulf War II and Operation Shader and the battle against Daesh.
Cover image: 99 Squadron Developing RAF C-17 Semi Prepared Runway Operations Capability (Picture: RAF).