The Civil Reserve Air Fleet Essay

This essay has a total of 2282 words and 11 pages.

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet is a partnership between the Department of Defense and
commercial airlines where the airlines contractually commit a portion of their aircraft
and crews to be used by the Department in the event of any level of military conflict.
These aircraft can be "called up" and required to respond quickly to provide airlift
support to the Department of Defense. There are minimum required levels of participation
in order for the airlines to be eligible, and in turn they receive peace time business
including passenger and cargo movement approximately in proportion to their commitment
level. The program is divided into three segments which include varying amounts and sizes
of aircraft that serve specific purposes. There are also three levels of activation
depending on the severity of the conflict, which also require different amounts and sizes
of aircraft. This program has been in place for nearly 53 years, and has become an
essential partnership required for an effective United States military. The following
pages are an investigation various aspects of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet such as its
purpose, history, and effectiveness.

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet
The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) is a network of select aircraft from several commercial
airlines that are all committed in various amounts to the Department of Defense (DoD) to
provide airlift resources when the capability of U.S. military aircraft is exceeded. This
system is designed so that these carriers can provide military cargo movement and troop
transportation to anywhere in the world on short notice in the event of a military
conflict. In order for airlines to join the CRAF, they must commit at least 30 percent of
their long-range passenger fleet and 15 percent of their long-range cargo planes (Fact
Sheet, 2004). These aircraft must also be U.S. registered, capable of over water
operations, and have at least four complete crews assigned for each aircraft (Fact Sheet,
2004). Airlines that participate in CRAF have provided vital support to our military since
the Korean War (Graham, David, 2003). The Persian Gulf War was the first official
activation of the CRAF, where two thirds of the troops and one quarter of the air cargo
was moved by commercial airplanes (Graham, 2003). Though not officially activated, the
CRAF is currently supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing nearly double the amount
of aircraft that the DoD has estimated for its most demanding war strategies. This paper
will provide a brief explanation of the purpose of the CRAF, its history, the
effectiveness of the program, and a quick look towards the future of the CRAF.

The CRAF program gives the DoD access to a huge reserve of commercial aircraft, the crews
to operate them, fuel, and any other resources required to operate them (Graham, 2003).
They can be activated and given as little as 24-48 hours notice to be ready to move
military forces and equipment to anywhere in the world. There are currently approximately
250 cargo aircraft involved which is 86 percent of the long-haul cargo fleets of the
participants (Graham, 2003). Passenger aircraft consist of approximately 479 which are 70
percent of the participants' long-haul passenger planes (Graham, 2003). This section will
discuss the main incentive the airlines receive for participation in the program, the
three main segments of CRAF, and will provide an explanation of the three stages of
activation of the CRAF.

The main incentive for airlines to commit their aircraft to CRAF is the access to serve
government markets in peacetime operations which represents over $2 billion dollars per
year in revenue (Graham, 2003). Nearly half of this revenue is DoD's passenger and cargo
charter business, which is divided up between CRAF participants approximately in
proportion to their total commitment of aircraft (Graham, 2003). The rest of this
peacetime revenue consists of a separate passenger and express cargo market program, and
required that each participant commit at least 30 percent of their long-haul fleet
(Graham, 2003). This peacetime business incentive is crucial in maintaining the required
commitment level from airlines to the CRAF. If it weren't for this guaranteed business,
many airlines would not participate in the program, especially the larger carriers. "Small
carriers are more likely to benefit financially when CRAF is activated, whereas larger
scheduled carriers are apt to be more concerned about losing market share to foreign
competitors and rivals who are not in the program. Since small carriers often do not
operate scheduled routes, CRAF activation represents additional business for them and is
not as disruptive as it may be to larger scheduled carriers (Participation in the Civil
Reserve Air Fleet, 1997).

The three segments of CRAF are the international segment, the national segment, and the
aero medical evacuation segment (U.S Air Force Fact Sheet, 2004). The international
segment consists of passenger and cargo aircraft capable of transoceanic operations. Their
role is to augment the Air Mobility Command's (AMC) long-range aircraft such as C-5's and
C-17's during operations ranging from minor contingencies to full blown national
emergencies (Fact Sheet, 2004). The national segment provides airlift within the United
States during an emergency, to include U.S Pacific Command's area of responsibility around
Alaska (Fact Sheet, 2004). Last is the aero medical evacuation segment. This segment's
main responsibility is to provide evacuation of casualties in conflict areas to hospitals
in the continental United States (Fact Sheet, 2004). They are also used to transport
medical crews and supplies to and from the conflict areas where they are needed, as well
as carry kits and equipment used to convert commercial B-767 passenger aircraft into air
ambulances (Fact Sheet, 2004).

There are three stages of activation of the CRAF. Stage I is for minor regional crises and
consists of up to 30 passenger wide-body equivalents (WBE) and 30 cargo WBE (Graham,
2003). For the purpose of the CRAF, a WBE is the equivalent of a B-747-100 (Graham, 2003).
Stage I is used when the U.S. military airlift force cannot meet both deployment and other
traffic requirements at the same time (Military Analysis Network, 2000). Stage II is for a
major theater war and can include up to an additional 57 passenger WBE, and 45 cargo WBE
above the Stage I provisions (Graham, 2003). Stage II is used when an airlift emergency
does not warrant national mobilization (Network, 2000). Finally, Stage III is for a major
national emergency and mobilization declared by the President or the Congress (Graham,
2003). This stage can call for an additional 49 passenger WBE and 45 cargo WBE (Graham,
2003). In the event of a full activation, the CRAF can provide up to about 90 percent of
the DoD's troop transport needs, about 40 percent of its cargo movement needs, and close
to 100 percent of the inter-theater aero-medical evacuation needs (Graham, 2003).

The CRAF was established in 1952 to provide the U.S. military the ability to utilize
commercial airlift support for its operations (Graham, 2003). World War II had a huge
impact on the course of commercial aviation, and aviation had just as big an impact on the
result of the war. In 1939, the United States had less than 300 air transports, but by the
end of the war, more than 40 U.S. manufacturers were producing about 50,000 planes per
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