Earlier this week, a Royal Air Force 70 Sqn A400M aircraft transported doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine to Ascension Island – a UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Due to its remote location and small population of just over 800 contractors and military personnel, it will become the first island to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

An A400M Atlas at Ascension Island.

Wing Commander Lee Roberts, Officer Commanding 70 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton, said:

“The role of the RAF is multipurpose. From the moment that the vaccines arrive at the front gate of RAF Brize Norton, the Brize Norton machine kicks into gear. The RAF is well placed to deliver and manage this vaccine delivery, and we’re extremely proud to be a part of providing this support to our Overseas Territories.”

An A400M Atlas at Ascension Island.

Flying Officer George Cox, Officer Commanding Cargo at RAF Brize Norton, said:

“This delivery was extremely important because the RAF can get out to remote locations that commercial aircraft can not necessarily access. Places like Ascension Island are notoriously difficult to get to, the RAF bridge the gap and try and help where we can.”

The RAF say that upon departing RAF Brize Norton, the vaccine must only be out refrigeration for a maximum of 72 hours, before entering refrigeration in Ascension Island again and must be stored at between 2-8 degrees.

“After a quick refuelling stop on route, the crew delivered the precious cargo into the safe hands of RAF movers on the ground, which later was given to the Ascension Island Government to begin distribution.”

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The report I read had the A400 TU on the ground with a defect before takeoff so a 24hr delay. It had issues at Cape Verde during the refuel with an engine before getting to Ascension. Not a great advert for the plane!

Glad to see the vaccines are there now. A friend of ours is based there married accompanied so him and his missus should be jabbed up shortly.


Can’t an A400 fly non-stop to Ascension?

Levi Goldsteinberg

Last I heard, RAF Wideawake had a whacking great hole in the runway meaning the U.K.-Falklands airbridge was being run through (I think) Cape Verde.

Am I mistaken? Did the runway get fixed with no reporting? Or can an A400M land on a broken runway?


The news I read, was the runway was closed to big jets but STOL jets could still land. Just had a butchers at DJ from Aug 2019
Any suggestion that plans to reinforce the Falkland Islands would be hindered by the runway closure have been dismissed. Transport aircraft can still operate from Ascension Island, including C-130, A400M, and C-17.

Last edited 13 days ago by Farouk
Levi Goldsteinberg

That answers that then, cheers

Trevor W Hogg

The A400 and rhe C17, may have the range, but the Herc not too sure. I was in Ascension fm Sep 88- Mar 89. The Brown Robin would have to refuel on the way south twice fm the Ascension tanker and one fm the Falklands. Might be different now with the C130J


The Falklands airbridge is via Dakar, Senegal. At present.


Ok , having lived on the Island, I take it the U.K. also vaccinated the US staff, on the US base .


Just had my first jab…Astra Zenica, Went to Boots vaccination centre…..really slick operation, in and out in 18 minutes!


They sent 3000 jabs for 800 people on a island that’s had 5 cases. Seems a little daft

Geoffrey Roach

We have 400,000,000 doses available so enough for our people times two plus our transatlantic cousins.


Contingency in case of damage