When people think Airpower they immediately think of bomber and fighter planes. Rightfully so, those are the planes that make things go "boom"! Those are the planes that are big and terrifying, do the cool tricks in the movies, and get the credit for winning wars in the air. There's no doubt, bomber and fighter planes are the secret sauce of defense strength. However, cargo planes are also incredibly important in airpower.
In the fall of 2021, a C-17 was used to evacuate US troops and Afghan civilians desperate to escape Taliban control from Afghanistan. The C-17 is a cargo plane that is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area. It can perform both tactical airlift and airdrop missions in addition to transporting patients for medical evacuations. Currently, the US military has many types cargo aircraft both commercial and military. The next most popular to the C-17 would be the C-130 Hercules. The C-130s are used for rescue missions, training, logistics operations, refuelers, special ops and much more. The United States takes the lead with nearly 100 C-130 Hercules aircraft:
United States Air Force operates- 54
The United States Air National Guard- 26
The United States Coast Guard- 6
The United States Marine Corps- 6
And finally the United States Navy- 8
The C-130J Super Hercules is the latest version in the Air Force arsenal of cargo planes with more modern technology, better engines, and more payload capacity. It is one of the most versatile cargo planes ever, with the ability to support a broad range of missions. It also has the capabilities to land on runways where other airlifters can't go. The 123rd Airlift Wing Kentucky Air National Guard (KYANG) is actually one of four U.S. selected bases to get the new C-130Js. The KYANG is receiving eight C-130Js to replace their C-130s.
With the escalation of Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. will likely use cargo planes such as the C-17 or C-130/C-130J to carry weapons in support of Ukraine or other forms of humanitarian said as events continue to unfold. Cargo planes are going to be essential in this crisis and hold has been a crucial part in many global conflicts.