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Civil Reserve Air Fleet

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet is made up of US civil air carriers who are committed by contract to providing operating and support personnel for DOD. The CRAF program is designed to quickly mobilize the nation's airlift resources to meet DOD force projection requirements. CRAF airlift services are divided into four operational segments:

  • Long-range international-strategic intertheater operations.
  • Short-range international theater operations.
  • Domestic CONUS-DOD supply distribution.
  • Alaskan-Aerospace Defense Command support.

The CRAF airlift capability can be activated in three stages. These stages are as follows:

  • Stage I. Stage I may be activated by the USCINCTRANSCOM,1 to perform airlift services when the AMC airlift force cannot meet simultaneously both deployment and other traffic requirements.
  • Stage II. Stage II is an additional airlift expansion identified for an airlift emergency which does not warrant national mobilization but may be activated by authority of the SECDEF.
  • Stage III. Stage III makes available the total CRAF airlift capability when required for DOD operations during major military emergencies involving US Forces. The SECDEF issues the order to activate CRAF stage III only after a national emergency has been declared by the President or Congress.

CRAF was activated for the first time in its history on 17 August 1990 when stage I aircraft were called up in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Despite a few minor problems, which have since been addressed, the activation of the CRAF was very successful. Commercial airlines are motivated to participate in the CRAF program in part by the opportunity to compete for DoD peacetime business. In the past several years, the volume of that available business base has been expanded by over a billion dollars. That was a strong factor in overcoming resistance to CRAF participation in the wake of the Gulf War. Military airfields are being opened to CRAF carriers for operations and bad weather alternates as additional incentives for CRAF participation.

DOD offers business through the International Airlift Services Contract. For fiscal 2007, the guaranteed portion of the contract is $379 million. AMC estimates that throughout fiscal 2007 it will also award more than $2.1 billion in additional business that is not guaranteed. As of May 2007, 37 carriers and 1,376 aircraft were enrolled in the CRAF. This includes 1,273 aircraft in the international segment (990 in the long-range international section and 283 in the short-range international section), and 37 and 50 aircraft, respectively, in the national and aeromedical evacuation segments, and four aircraft in the Alaskan segment. These numbers are subject to change on a monthly basis.

Boeing B747. The Boeing B747 is a wide-body aircraft. The cargo-carrying versions have a planning cargo weight of about 180,000 pounds. The main deck can hold either 32 to 36 military or 28 commercial pallets. The passenger version carries about 364 passengers (only 237 on the B747SP).

Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011. The Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 are wide-body aircraft. The cargo-carrying version of the DC-10 has an average cargo weight of about 120,000 pounds. The main deck can hold either 30 military or 22 commercial pallets. The passenger version of the DC-10 can carry about 242 passengers. The L-1011 passenger version has a capacity of 246 to 330 seats.

Douglas DC-8 and Boeing B707. The Douglas DC-8 and Boeing B707 are narrow-body aircraft. The DC-8 cargo version has a planning cargo weight that varies from 52,000 to 82,000 pounds. The main deck accommodates 14 to 18 pallets, depending on the aircraft series. The cargo version of the B707 has a planning cargo weight of about 60,000 pounds, and the main deck can carry 13 military or commercial pallets. The passenger DC-8 carries 165 to 219 passengers, and the B707, approximately 165 passengers. CRAF aircraft are neither designed nor intended to carry litter patients.



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