Commercial carriers deliver supplies to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan
The United States military is having commercial carriers airlift supplies to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on a test basis, believing it could reduce costs sharply if it could move more cargo on commercial jets.
U.S. Central Command’s Deployment and Distribution Operations Center (CDDOC) initiated a 45 day test program on July 17 to determine the cost and effectiveness of using commercial air cargo aircraft to augment military aircraft.
“The purpose of this initiative is to develop a commercial air capability to efficiently move cargo, establishing conditions to reduce the number of military aircraft in theater,” said a statement issued by the United States Transportation Command.
The test will validate the cost and mission effectiveness of the new program for scheduling air cargo traffic in theater, testing commercial carrier’s ability to handle increased cargo requirements.
CDDOC planners estimate 15 to 20 percent of routes now flown by military aircraft may be better served by commercial carriers.
But it said during the evaluation period, certain cargo, because of its nature or priority, will continue to be flown on military aircraft.
The test follows a Commercial Air Heavyweight Tender conference in Dubai that was attended by airlines such as DHL, UPS, United, Continental, and National Air Cargo.
The military says it hopes to reduce the cost of airlift to Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that from December 2005 to May 2006, the average monthly cost was $54.6 million. It projects the program could save it a minimum of $600,000 per day.