AirForces Monthly – Issue 423 – June 2023
English | 102 pages | pdf | 28.73 MB
Tactical airlift once again saved the day for ex-pats stranded overseas during a time of conflict. The RAF Air Mobility Force, boasting a shrinking fleet of C-130J Hercules and growing numbers of A400M Atlas aircraft, flew into Khartoum, Sudan, in late April to get diplomats and other British citizens out of the stricken country, which as we go to press looks set to turn into a civil war.
Other countries did likewise, most of them before the UK, where the government dithered over making a decision after initially rescuing diplomats in a Special Forces mission, much to the irritation of the Germans (for more see Headlines on pp 6-9).
By far the largest and most successful mission was carried out by the RAF, who first brought in troops to rescue British Embassy staff and their families, before returning to fly out more than 2,000 British passport holders and their families, along with NHS doctors with work permits and a group of around 80 Irish citizens. The C-130K and C-130J Hercules have been loyal servants to the RAF since the late 1960s and have played a big part in emergency airlifts over the subsequent decades.
In 2020, we saw them deployed to Kabul after the Taliban took over the country. In 2014, they were heavily involved in dropping food to the Yazidi people, who were being persecuted and a lot more by Islamic State while trapped on Mount Sinjar.
As many of you will know, the remaining seven RAF C-130Js are being withdrawn from service in July and their role will be largely taken on by the A400M. It will be strange not seeing the most popular airlifter in the world flying with RAF roundels, but the decision has been made now to phase them out and there is no going back.
Meanwhile, Sudan has been plagued by war for more than ten years now. Some may remember the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group and its nasty Janjaweed
militias played a major role in murdering hundreds if not thousands of civilians in the Darfur War in 2013/14. The government’s military has a big fight on its hands with the RSF and the conflict could linger on for a long while.
According to some sources, the RSF has connections with the Wagner Group, which is now taking sides in wars scattered around northern Africa. Wagner, of course, is also currently fighting on the front lines on behalf of the Russians in southeastern Ukraine.