The Royal Air Force 99 Squadron's C-17 fleet has reached the significant milestone of 100,000 flight hours. Those flight hours span nearly 11 and a half years' worth of transporting soldiers, performing medical evacuations, delivering food drops to refugees in war torn areas, and of carrying out their mission while humming proudly and thunderously through the skies.
According to Wing Commander Rhodri Evans, officer commanding, 99 Squadron, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force C-17 squadron has been putting in overtime. The hours were achieved with the six C-17s running at around 15 percent above the planned 8,000 hour baseline annual flying tasking rate.
Christopher Clements, F117 field service representative, said his role, and the role of those Pratt & Whitney field reps at Brize Norton that were there before him on this 100,000 flight hour milestone was "a behind-the-scenes part doing what we do best, providing the RAF with outstanding technical support 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Since entering the Royal Air Force inventory in May 2001, the C-17 has become indispensable to wider defense efforts. The fleet has been pivotal in various missions including supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, supporting natural disasters and humanitarian crisis in the form of earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones and more recently the Ebola virus epidemic.
"The C-17 is unequivocally an incredibly flexible strategic platform and provides [The Ministry of] Defence and wider UK government with a plethora of options to respond to a crisis of whatever nature," said Evans.
Clements, who provides interface between the Royal Air Force, the Boeing Company and Pratt & Whitney, relative to the support of F117-PW-100 engines installed in C-17 aircraft assigned to 99 Squadron, said that the 99 Squadron is very happy with the support that Pratt & Whitney provides to them.
"I believe they feel that as a company, we are going to do whatever it takes to keep the Eagle flying," said Clements.
To do this, Clements said it's all about the support team.
"It reminds me of the old Verizon Wireless commercials. There's me, the field rep supporting the Royal Air Force and standing behind me, supporting me, is a rather large team of experts. Specifically, in East Hartford, I receive support from the F117 Logistics Program Management team and the F117 Customer Support Engineering team. Additionally, I often get outstanding support from my fellow F117 field reps stationed all over the world," said Clements. "When all these folks assist me, they indirectly support my customer and that's what it's all about – the teamwork."