NBG’s airborne capacity:
Like a flying car ferry

Imagine a Finland ferry just before it sails from the dock in Stockholm. That’s just about what it looks like when one of the world’s largest air freighters is loaded with armoured vehicles and containers for Nordic Battlegroup.

An-124 has been rented from the Ukraine for EU Battlegroup, and must be ready for an operation with a standby period of five days. Photo: Henrik Haglund/Förrsvarets bildbyrå

Trains, boats, by road – and by air. Nordic Battlegroup uses all forms of transport. The most spectacular method of them all for transporting heavy equipment was demonstrated during the final exercise, Nordic Resolution: Via the enormous aircraft An-124, Antonov Condor.

The route was Örebro – Luleå. Once it had landed at F 21 the cargo was unloaded onto the Swedish Armed Forces’ TP 84, Hercules, which ran a shuttle service to the military base in Jokkmokk.

That’s exactly how it should work during an operation. An-124 on long strategic flights to large airfields, with Hercules on shorter routes to more temporary bases.

If you have ever seen the An-124 loaded up – and then lift off! – you have seen nearly everything there is to see that can get airborne.

During the first of four takeoffs from Örebro the giant aircraft was close to its maximum load: 150 tonnes (for a simple comparison a car only weighs about one tonne).

12 armoured Galten jeeps (RG 132) had rolled onboard, each of which weighs all of 6.5 tonnes. They all had a loaded trailer as well. Just the Galten outfit on its own weighed over 80 tonnes!

A container was lifted onboard at the rear holding reconnaissance radar of the UndE 23 type. The tractor, an impressive MAN, drove onboard at the front together with the Galtens, before it was also chained to the floor in their company.

The comparison with a Finland or Germany ferry makes sense. An enormous nose visor at the front and within that a bow door. The vehicles rolled in on a ramp, which also follows along onboard the aircraft.

The aircraft was technically ready to take off in less than three minutes after the last vehicle had rolled onboard.
The An-124 is considered to be the largest freight aircraft in the world, in competition with the C-17 (Boeing).

The US participated with an aircraft of this type in the final round of the NGB exercise, as part of the preparations for a multinational resource for Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), in which Sweden is also planning to take part.

As opposed to the An-124, the C-17 has countermeasures and can land on poor surfaces, in desert sand and on short landing strips.

Text: Sven-Åke Haglund