Deliver aid

Hurricane Irma Relief

The RAF was an integral part of Operation Ruman, the UK's biggest military and civilian operation since 2011.

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The RAF was an integral part of Operation Ruman, the UK's biggest military and civilian operation since 2011.

Devastation in the Caribbean

In September 2017 the Caribbean was hit by Hurricane Irma, a category five tropical cyclone with wind speeds of 185mph. Irma killed over 130 people and caused catastrophic damage, leaving thousands of people without shelter and power, facing hunger and disease.

An RAF Hercules co-pilot observes the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma

An immediate RAF response

We don’t know when we’ll next be needed around the world to provide humanitarian assistance or defend threats to the UK and our allies, but we are always ready to get there quickly and make an immediate impact.


The RAF delivered 75 tonnes of humanitarian aid
passengers flown into and around the region
types of RAF aircraft used

What was operation RUMAN?

Ruman was the name of the UK's humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of hurricane Irma. The operation started on September 7th  2017 and lasted for five weeks.

A C-17 Globemaster leaving RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire only days after Hurricane Irma struck. This plane and others were packed with equipment and humanitarian supplies, bound for the Caribbean.

Getting support to those in need

For more than a month our personnel worked with partners to deliver the food, water, medical supplies, and materials the island residents desperately needed.

The RAF moved 1,500 tonnes of freight into and around the Caribbean during the Hurricane relief effort.

We delivered over 75 tonnes of humanitarian aid such as tents and lanterns to over a thousand miles of affected islands.

Humanitarian Aid

We supported UK Government's response to distribute essential items:

500,000Purification tablets
3,000Shelter kits

We airlifted the construction materials needed to begin securing and rebuilding devastated buildings across the islands

RAF Relief Effort - Hurricane Irma

Personnel from the RAF's Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) were deployed as part of the RAF's Deployable Aeromedical Response Teams (DARTS)

Getting Passengers to Cut-off places

Our aircraft flew 2,000 passengers into and around the region in the aftermath of Irma. Royal Marines, UK Government ministers and officials, UK Police, probation officers could start their critical work

Map of Caribbean islands

Then British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Assesses the situation from the cockpit of an RAF Hercules

The RAF ensured officials from charities, non-governmental organisations officials, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development could reach the areas that most needed their help.

The pace of work here in the Caribbean is relentless, but we all know that people across the region are depending upon us.
Wing Commander Gareth Burdett,
Commanding Officer of 38 Expeditionary Air Wing

Working with our international partners

RAF personnel unloading building materials from a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules.

In response to a request from French President Emmanuel Macron, an RAF C-17 Globemaster was dispatched from RAF Brize Norton to France to fly specialist disaster relief equipment including a tipper truck, digger and a bulldozer, to the French Island of Guadeloupe.

The RAF Team

Our  38 Expeditionary Air Wing  led the RAF’s response of over a dozen flying squadrons and specialist RAF logistics, communications, and security squadrons and units.


The success of the operation depended on a wide range of RAF people working together. Find out more about some of the roles involved:

The work was very physical with long days outside in temperatures averaging 38°C. However, over 70 tons of water, food, clothing and supplies were delivered to Grand Turk and an airhead was established there to receive the incoming aid for distribution
Macr Gareth Attridge,   RAF Mobile Air Operations Team Leader