Transport aircraft are special cargo aircraft that are developed for the military transport of people, material or cargo. They have to be robust, reliable and variable for these purposes and have to be able to be loaded and unloaded quickly. In many developments, vehicles can drive themselves into the aircraft via a bow or tailgate. Can be transported, also in combination, for example vehicles, tanks , soldiers for air transport and parachutists in the air landing, equipment or goods for civilian relief operations.
The terms transport aircraft and cargo aircraft are used colloquially synonymously. In the military sense, transport aircraft are special cargo aircraft that are developed for the military transport of people, material or cargo. They have to be robust, reliable and variable for these purposes and have to be able to be loaded and unloaded quickly. With many developments, vehicles can drive themselves into the aircraft via a bow or tailgate like the Messerschmitt Me 323 . Can be transported, also in combination, for example vehicles, tanks , soldiers for air transport and parachutists in the air landing, equipment or goods for civilian relief operations.
Numerous types of aircraft, which were originally designed entirely or primarily for the civilian market, were then also used as military transport aircraft, e.g. B. the Handley Page Herald or Douglas DC-3 .
Tactical transport aircraft
Tactical transport aircraft are used to transport troops and material directly to operational areas in which, due to a lack of infrastructure, instrument navigation is often neither possible nor paved runways . Transport aircraft have low-pressure tires for landings in unpaved landing areas. If no runway is available, loads or parachutists can be dropped from the air with parachutes, or loads without an umbrella can be dropped using a low-level flight method. Tactical transport aircraft are usually powered by propellers . As a result, they are less susceptible to damage from foreign bodies sucked in, such as bird strikes, and have good properties when taking off and landing on short runways or runways and at the slow airspeed that is necessary for landing.
Tactical transport aircraft like the Antonov An-26 are also known as combat zone tactical transport aircraft . This term was mainly used by the Russian military and was intended to designate aircraft that were relatively bulletproof due to their simple construction and partly also due to the armoring of the airframe, which could land and take off on unpaved landing zones and which, although only in the early phase, were partially equipped with machine weapons were.
Examples of tactical transport aircraft
Strategic transport aircraft
Strategic transport aircraft transport troops and material over long distances to military or civil airports away from the immediate area of operation, from where tactical transport aircraft, helicopters or transport vehicles take over the further transport. They use paved runways and an existing infrastructure and are generally not intended for direct use in the operational area. Nowadays they are powered by jet engines, have a much larger transport volume than tactical transport aircraft and achieve a higher cruising speed and range than these. In addition to specially developed transport aircraft with tail or bow ramps, converted passenger aircraft are also used for strategic air transport. Some of these machines have a side loading hatch through which transport pallets can be loaded.
Examples of strategic transport aircraft
- Airbus A400M
- Antonov An-124 Ruslan
- Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
- Lockheed L-1011 TriStar
- Airbus A310 MRTT
- Airbus A330 MRTT
- Xian Y-20
Multifunctional transport aircraft
For some years now, transport aircraft have been developed that can be used for both tactical and strategic air transport. Examples are the Boeing C-17 and the Airbus A400M . They combine the good landing properties of tactical transport aircraft on unpaved or short runways with a greater range and increased air transport capacity. However, they do not have the capacity to carry multiple battle tanks, as is the case with some strategic transport aircraft. A multiple solution is provided by VTOL transport aircraft such as a. the Bell Boeing V-22 . They have both the properties of a helicopter and the long-range properties of a transport aircraft and can usually be air-fueled .