The US Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) has been activated for only the second time in over 50 years as forces in the Gulf build up. US Transportation Command has called up 47 passenger aircraft flown by US airlines under Stage I of the CRAF call-up.

The US Department of Defense has also authorised the activation of 31 widebody cargo aircraft, but these have yet to be called up as US military transports and CRAF-volunteered commercial freighters are meeting airlift demand. The aircraft will be provided by 22 carriers, with the passenger jets coming from American Airlines, American Trans Air, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, North American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Omni Air International, United Airlines, US Airways and World Airways. The airlines continue to operate and maintain the aircraft, but the missions are controlled by US Air Force Air Mobility Command.

Stage I is the lowest level of CRAF activation. Stage II, used for major regional contingencies, was activated during Operations Desert Shield/Storm. Stage III - national mobilisation - has never been activated. The activation involves the long-range international section, which can call on almost 500 aircraft.

Source: Flight International