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First Hercules returns from Operation SHADER as Atlas steps up

Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft supporting Operation SHADER has returned to RAF Brize Norton after over eight years of continuous deployment in support of the coalition commitment to combatting Da’esh.

Image shows the RAF Hercules aircraft on the airfield at night.

The role undertaken by the Hercules transporting personnel and freight in theatre is transitioning to the Atlas (A400M), and the two types of aircraft will continue to operate side-by-side before responsibility transfers completely later this year.

It was a great honour to fly home the first RAF Hercules after over eight years of continuous operations in support of the counter-Da’esh fight. The Hercules was central to the first ever Operation SHADER mission, when vital supplies were dropped to the Yazidi people on Mt Sinjar on 9 August 2014.

I would like to pay tribute to the hundreds of engineers, aircrew, support staff, industry partners and families of the Hercules force who have supported Operation SHADER non-stop since 2014 – their contribution has been enormous.

Image shows the RAF Hercules aircraft taxiing on the airstrip at night.

Although one Hercules will remain committed to SHADER until later this year, flying home [Hercules] ZH877 marks the beginning of the changes leading to the aircraft’s retirement in June. Hercules draw down is tinged with sadness for many of us, but it is heartening to see our friends on the Atlas force continuing to deliver on SHADER and increasing their own exciting capabilities every day.

Wing Commander Sjoberg
Officer Commanding 47 Squadron

Image shows the RAF Hercules aircraft parking on the airfield at night.

Since the original version in 1967 the Hercules has operated across the globe in support of UK military and humanitarian relief operations.

This is a significant moment for the Atlas Force. As the Detachment Commander for the C130J mission which commenced Operation SHADER on 9 August 2014, I recognise the enormous contribution that the C130J engineers and aircrew have made to underwrite this operation over the past eight years. The Atlas is a great aircraft, and our force is ready to take this task on. We aim to do justice to this proud heritage and the mantle which 47 Squadron leaves behind.

Wing Commander Bailey
Officer Commanding LXX Squadron

Image shows three RAF aviators shaking hands in by a RAF Hercules aircraft, on the airfield at night.

Read more about the RAF Hercules