The Royal Air Force (RAF) has deployed a Hercules C-130J detachment to the Middle East to provide tactical air transport capability in support of UK operations.

The detachment is made up of aircraft and aircrew from 47 and 24 Squadrons, as well as individual augmentees.

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It provides air mobility in extreme environments.

Besides the aircrew, each Hercules sortie involves RAF Force Protection, Ground Engineers and Mover workforce to make the flights ‘self-supporting.’

For each flight, the ground engineers will routinely conduct mandatory checks and carry out maintenance on arrival.

The RAF Regiment Gunners will be deployed to provide security for the C-130J Hercules aircraft.

Meanwhile, the movers will load and unload passengers and cargo at any of the destinations in and around the Middle East.

C-130J Detachment Commander squadron leader Fairley said: “The C-130J has provided the backbone to the RAF’s tactical airlift capability in the Middle East since the start of Operation Shader in 2014.

“We routinely operate under the cover of darkness to deliver critical support across both to Operation Shader and Operation Kipion enabling operations to continue in the ongoing fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.”

The detachment moves almost more than 200 troops into the theatre on average. It will transport some 40t of freight each month in support of the mission.

RAF noted that the C130 detachment also supports UK’s ‘Operation Kipion’, aimed at promoting peace and stability within the Broader Middle East.

The Lockheed Martin-built C-130 Hercules features a glass cockpit, digital avionics, as well as a new propulsion system with a six-bladed propeller. It is operational in more than 70 countries.