The UK Royal Air Force marked the 10th anniversary of its introduction of Boeing’s C-17 strategic transport by sending one of its aircraft to the Royal International Air Tattoo for the first time in several years.
ZZ177, the seventh and currently last planned C-17 to enter service with the RAF’s 99 Sqn, arrived at the show early on 17 July, before being opened to the public while on static display.
But highlighting the C-17 fleet’s continued heavy commitment to the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, it was held at short readiness to leave the show if required to perform medical evacuation duties in support of the UK’s deployed armed forces.
Both images © Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal
The UK took delivery of its first C-17 under an initially four-aircraft lease deal with Boeing in May 2001, one year after signing a deal with the company. Now purchased outright and joined by a further three of the airlifters, these deliver a key part of the UK’s “airbridge” with the Afghan theatre of operations.
ZZ177 entered operational use with 99 Sqn at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire during February, by which point the unit's other aircraft had flown more than a combined 65,000 flight hours.
RIAT’s organisers estimate that around 138,000 visitors attended this year’s show at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.