"The Essentials" Series is a monthly blog related to Airborne culture. We target fundamental topics such as Airborne equipment, culture, traditions, trivia, etc.
While we have a semi-annual plan on the topics, we remain open to ideas from paratroopers like yourself. So, feel free to reach out and propose a topic, our staff writers will get in touch with you, and you might even end up writing it together!
“The Essentials” Series Two: C-17 Globemaster a.k.a. Cadillac in the Sky
The C-17 Globemaster is one of the most sophisticated, humongous, and practical aircraft ever made. The Cadillac in the Sky is a monster in many aspects and has already earned its place in warfare history. In addition to becoming an essential aircraft for airborne operations, it has undoubtedly become a favorite among paratroopers. Thus, it is considered Essential for any large airborne operations.
C-17: An Aircraft Like No Other
The C-17 is not only a breathtaking airplane in appearance, but it is impressive in its performance, designed and built by the famous corporation Boeing. The Globemaster is a four-engine transport plane that can carry massive cargo or personnel over long distances, making it a vital asset for military and humanitarian missions worldwide.
Another exceptional feat of the C-17 is its ability to take off and land on relatively short runways, even in the most challenging environments, such as high-altitude runways or unpaved airstrips. This is thanks to its powerful engines, which provide a whopping 40,000 pounds of thrust each, and its advanced flight control systems that enable it to perform tight turns and steep climbs.
But the C-17s are capable of even more, like in-flight refueling, which means they can stay airborne for hours or even days, allowing them to fly non-stop to almost anywhere in the world. And once it reaches its destination, the C-17 can quickly and efficiently unload its cargo through various methods, including a rear ramp, side doors, or even a specially-designed airdrop system that can deliver supplies or personnel directly to the ground.
Speaking of cargo, the C-17 can carry an astonishing amount of it - up to 170,900 pounds, to be exact. That's the equivalent of four M1 Abrams tanks or three Blackhawk helicopters to give you an idea of the kind of loads it can transport. And if that's not enough, the C-17 can also be configured to carry up to 102 passengers, making it a versatile aircraft that can handle a wide range of missions. However, in August 2021, Globemaster III carried an astonishing 823 Afghan citizens in Operation Allies Welcome.
From Operation Allied Force to Operation Iraqi Freedom
The C-17 was vital in one of the most significant operations in 1999's Operation Allied Force in NATO's fight against the Serb and Yugoslav forces. It was considered a success story because it flew the majority of strategic airlift missions easing operations and rapid turnaround times. However, the Globemaster III was responsible for the first airborne operations since Desert Storm.
In March 2003, Operation Northern Delay was initiated, which meant that paratroopers from the 173 Airborne Brigade would conduct a combat drop into the very early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This operation, of course, was completed using a big fleet of Globemaster III, and around 1000 soldiers jumped at night into Bashur Airfield. What can beat that jump? Well, having the same paratroopers stop six Iraqi divisions from approaching Baghdad for starters. What a feat!
The C-17 has also been critical in non-combat jumps, such as the record-breaking jump from 33,000 feet by the famous Army Golden Knights. The U.S. Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions have also jumped out of C-17, setting world records at six miles above the ground and jumping in places other people can only google online.
The Globemaster III Is An Absolute Favorite Among Paratroopers
Today, no significant training or combat airborne jump is projected without a C-17 these days. The Globemaster III has become so instrumental that operations are designed around it. It can carry troops, vehicles, and equipment, making it truly special.
Goose is an impressive aircraft that combines power, versatility, and advanced technology to deliver a noteworthy performance. Whether providing humanitarian aid to disaster-stricken areas, transporting equipment, or carrying troops to conduct an air assault, the C-17 is a true workhorse that has earned its place as one of the most important military aircraft of our time.
Option 1: Do you want to witness a view from inside C-17 of the 173rd Paratroopers conducting a night jump into enemy territory? Check out this short video!
Option 2: Here's a video of the Sky Soldiers commemorating the 20th anniversary of 173rd Airborne Brigade conducting a night jump into enemy territory? Check out this video!