HONOLULU (KHNL) C-17 cargo planes have been used in the tsunami relief effort, the pakistan earthquake as well as in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Rita.
Now Hawaii is getting its own fleet of the massive cargo jets. The first of eight C-17 cargo jets arrived at Hickam Air Force Base on Wednesday.
The gigantic planes will be used in relief and combat missions. In an arrival ceremony, Governor Linda Lingle welcomed the C-17 named, "Spirit of Hawaii, Ke Aloha."
"It gives us this tremendous capability within our state, in times of emergency. As you know, a lot of time its moving generators, moving food, move medical supplies, people and equipment very quickly and this will give us the capability to reach remote areas," said Lingle.
This enormous plane is the next generation of cargo planes. It can land on unpaved runways or dirt strips.
"Its got the shoulder width of a C-5, but its got a fuselage length of C-141 or C-130 hybrid," said Steve Cirelli of Boeing Corporation.
The cargo bay can hold up to two 18 wheeler trucks as well as a 67 ton tank.
"It brings the capability it never had before. they got an airdrop mission for Hickam with this airplane. It can deliver supplies needed in the Pacific ring," said Cirelli.
Military officials hope the C-17's will solidify Air Force's airlift mobility in the Pacific.
"They will do whatever mission is on their given plate for the day. It may be just normal, road missions taking supplies to forces in Japan or Korea, or it could be landing in the desert in Afghanistan," said General Paul Hester, Pacific Air Forces Commander.
The C-17's will replace five older C-130 planes.
The new C-17's will be flown and maintained by the Air Force and the Hawaii Air National Guard.