The airlift has two directions at present. The Swedish Armed Forces’ two TP 84 in the region fly between Islamabad in Pakistan and Kabul. The C-17 fly between Tbilisi in Georgia and Kabul.
“The third Hercules flight has currently departed from Kabul. We have room for approximately 70 individuals on each flight, but the list of people to be evacuated keeps getting longer all the time”, says Per Carlemalm, head of the transport aircraft squadron at the Skaraborg air wing.
The air traffic at Kabul Airport is intense. It is therefore of major importance to adhere to slot times. This means that the aircraft have to take off, whether they are full or not, and this puts pressure on identity and security checks. The Swedish Armed Forces is only responsible for transportation and security in and around the aircraft. Identity checks are handled by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, embassy staff as well as the Swedish Migration Agency.
“We’ve evacuated approximately 1 000 individuals of various nationalities with the C-17 so far, and we fly several rounds every day. The reason why we depart from Tbilisi is that we can fly to Kabul, leave the engines running and return directly without having to refuel” says Peder Söderström, unit commander of the Heavy Air Wing, a European air wing in which Sweden, Finland and 10 NATO countries cooperate.
Onward transportation from Islamabad and Tbilisi is handled by chartered airlines to various destinations.
The Swedish Armed Forces’ transportation is carried out in close cooperation with Denmark, Norway and Finland, among others.