The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract worth $873m to various domestic commercial airlines for the one-time transportation of Armed Forces personnel and cargo to both military and commercial airfields.

Those companies involved to fulfil the task include Air Transport International, Wilmington, Ohio; Alaska Airlines, Seattle, Washington; Allegiant Air, Las Vegas, Nevada; American Airlines, Fort Worth, Texas; Amerijet International, Miami Springs, Florida; Atlas Air, Purchase, New York; Delta Air Lines, Atlanta, Georgia; Eastern Airlines, Wayne, Pennsylvania; Tatonduk Outfitters, doing business as Everts Air Cargo, Fairbanks, Alaska; Federal Express, Memphis, Tennessee; Hawaiian Airlines, Honolulu, Hawaii; Kalitta Air, Ypsilanti, Michigan; Lynden Air Cargo, Anchorage, Alaska; National Air Cargo Group, Orlando, Florida; Omni Air International, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Sierra Pacific Airlines, Tucson, Arizona; Southwest Airlines, Dallas, Texas; Sun Country, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Swift Air, Greensboro, North Carolina; and United Airlines, Chicago, Illinois.

The contractor shall provide all personnel, equipment, tools, materials, supervision, and other items and services necessary.

Performance of services shall take place within the continental US, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Mexico, and Canada, as specified in the individual solicitation or delivery order.

The base period of performance is from 1 April 2024 to 30 September 2028.

Transportation Working Capital Funds will be obligated for fiscal 2024 to 2028. The US Transportation Command (UTC), Directorate of Acquisition, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is the contracting activity.

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Commercial airlines transport support blemishes UTC’s global capability

Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Sergeant Major Troy E. Black, visited UTC on 9 January 2024, to gain a deeper understanding of the combatant command’s global mission and how it supports the National Defense Strategy.

Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Sergeant Major Troy E. Black, visited US Transportation Command on 9 January 2024. Credit: US Transportation Command.

Unlike combatant commands that focus on specific geographical areas, UTC is unique as it operates globally, co-ordinating military logistics and transportation across all boundaries. Black highlighted this capability, stating:

“UTC is one of the few commands that is literally looking globally — moving and sustaining our joint force worldwide. No other [nation’s military] on the planet operates at the level that our US military does. And seeing how UTC makes this capability possible is invaluable.”

UTC claims that while 85% of US forces reside within the continental US, the Command leverages its land, sea, and air capabilities to project and sustain joint combat power worldwide.

However, the use of commercial airlines to assist in the moving of materiel and personnel inside in the continental US and to near neighbours points to a greater reliance on such outsourcing than is understood.