Simple.It's a numbers thing, Herc or other similar transport good for shifting guys short trips in low numbers, but we have thousands & thousands of trips a month - only way to cope with this is to use commercial airliners configured for maximum capacity.Its purely an operational requirement.Common for commercial jets to ferry guys into middle east and then switch to RAF Tristars as they have eqpt for night landings with no lights etc as security dictates this as safest way in.
It could be a bit unfortunate if they need to urgently reinforce an area and a holiday firm has just gone bust so all the charter aircraft are busy flying holiday makers home.
If you think that is expensive, look at the cost of the repalcement for the Tristar/VC-10 fleet for inflight refuelling and transport. About £500m a year for 27 years, to but and operate 15 planes that cost about $200m each.
Trust me, you wouldn't want to spend much more than a hour on a hercules. It's quite fun when the pilot cuts the engines though.
Top speed of a Herc is about 350mph. Top speed of a 767 us 530mph. The herc is cold and drafty, and doesn't have that many seats. Which would you rather make the 3000 mile journey to Afghanistan in? You could ask them to drive there in Landies if you really wanted to save some money!
CrabAir doesn't have enough troop transports at all and what they have got are ancient: the Tristars and VC10's were used to transport Noah and his family to the Ark. Hercs are fine - no excellent - tactical lift aircraft but sure as hell not troop transports - well not over any distance. The Airbus A330 is down as a dual role replacement for the VC10s/TriStars but don't hold your breath. So in the interim CrabAir charters from God knows whom!
The Tri-Star fleet is too old and frequently breaks down. With it's defensive aide suite it's primarily used for keeping the airbridge to Afghanistan open. Omni-Air are the Charter Company I've been on with the MOD most often. They're based out of the States and end of the every flight give a public announcement saying how they appreciate our service and assistance to their country. Allegedly Branson offered to take over all trooping flights using Virgn at rates far below commercial ones but was turned down by the MOD.
Worth pointing out that one reason we're relying n ancient kit is that the European solution to military air transport - A400M - is massively delayed and massively over-budget. Once again, a European joint-venture effort at a defence project has been a miserable failure. It's about time we started buying off the shelf.
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