Revised Intratheater Airlift Planning Reaps Immense Savings

A team of air transportation analysts devised a way to streamline intratheater airlift operations in Afghanistan, thereby realizing astounding cost savings, according to air mobility officials at Scott AFB, Ill. The analysts project cost savings of some $398 million annually by reducing the need for commercial freighters to augment military airlifters, states Scott’s July 12 release. Since 2006, commercial airplanes have helped transport military supplies and equipment for Afghanistan under a program called Theater Express. At its peak in 2012, moving cargo in this manner cost some $400 million a year, said Donald Anderson, Air Mobility Command’s assistant director of analysis. To cut those costs, the analysts revised outdated military airlift cost data and built a simulation model that could predict cargo space availability on Air Force C-17s and C-130s up to five days in advance, states the release. These updates “allowed us to have a more accurate estimate of military airlift costs and increased the amount of cargo transported by regularly scheduled military aircraft,” said Anderson. As a result, the analysts now project that Theater Express will cost “about $2 million a year,” said Anderson. (Scott report by Roger Drinnon)