A Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules transport aircraft has conducted a series of resupply flights for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). 

The supplies were air dropped by parachute by an aircraft from RAF Brize Norton based 47 Squadron.

According to the Royal Air Force in a news release:

“Over a ten-day period 77 containers, weighing 63.1 Tonnes of essential supplies, have been delivered to the BAS forward base at Sky Blu.  The supplies included petrol, aviation fuel, rations and aircraft spares. The Sky Blu base is a BAS forward operating station located at latitude 75 degrees South in southern Palmer Land, Antarctica.  

The name of the base comes from the area of blue ice that surrounds it which is formed from extremely hard and dense ice that has lost the air bubbles that normally cloud the ice. The 47 Squadron aircraft has been flying from the Chilean city of Punta Arenas, one of the principle support locations used by the international community to support their Antarctic activities.”

The RAF say the mission was initially delayed by strong winds during the planned first week of flights, however, as the weather improved, the detachment was able to catch up and finished the resupply on time.

One of the 47 Squadron pilots said in the news release:

“We are pleased to have successfully completed the full quota of supplies requested by BAS during Ex Austral Endurance.  The tenacity and flexibility of our teams from 47 Squadron RAF and 47 (Air Despatch) Squadron Royal Logistic Corps made up for the initial delay.”

The mission also enables the RAF to hone the crews’ skills in long-range stores insertion over a sustained period, a task for which 47 Squadron may be called upon to undertake anytime, anywhere in support of UK humanitarian or military operations, say the Royal Air Force.

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So can 47sqd land on snow? And Does the RAF not have skis for 47 squadron?


supplies were air dropped by parachute


I did read it mate, I was wondering if they can land on snow like the yanks and refuel.


I don’t think they have the LC-130 conversion kits for the Hercules, only the US seem to operate them with these fitted. Or if they do, it’s top secret in support of the SF.

The 3000

Hello Cam.
In short, no and no.


Is this one of those Santa Claus stories?


Shame it couldn’t fly direct from Mount Pleasant. One of the rationale for maintaining the base is it gives access to Antarctica yet it flew from Chile. Good reason I suppose


Presumably the supplies needed are easier to source in Chile than the Falkland Islands


A wonderful and still good looking old lady. Even though supplies were parachuted in this instance it would be interesting to know if a Hercules renowned for its ability to land on short rough airstrips, could have landed on the strip in the photo above? I remember seeing footage of an RAF C130 landing in the newly constructed Falklands airport and it came to a near halt in less than half the length of the runway


Sorry-senior moment-newly constructed St Helena airport.

The 3000

The strip in the photo is Rothera base. The Hercules could land there but only at very light weights (little fuel, little payload). So not really possible for a long range resupply where you will need a lot of both!


Just Googled it-fully loaded just over a kilometre

Daniele Mandelli

So one of our 47 Sqn Hercs must fly all the way down there, when there is an Atlas in the Falklands?

Is Atlas not cleared for this sort of low level drop? Or is it too important where it is located for it’s roles given it is a singleton.

Sceptical Richard

Atlas would have been a better choice in every respect. Effectively twice the payload/range, faster and capable of landing in shorter and less well prepared runways. Although all the cargo drop capabilities have been demonstrated at all altitudes and both gravity and parachute extraction, I don’t believe these have received full operational clearance in the RAF, commonly known as Release to Service. This is dependent on safety case completion and paperwork. With C-130J still providing the ‘tactical’ role in the RAF, and the extreme culture of risk aversion following Haddon-Cave, there is no urgency to release Atlas for the tactical… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks SR. All makes sense, and I have noted over the years you are the man concerning Atlas matters.

So they are still only using Atlas in the Strategic Transport role, in effect.

I know 47 support SF so they are naturals for this sort of thing, but fully utilising all of our assets would be very useful!

Sceptical Richard

Yep. RAF wouldn’t call it strategic though. That’s what C-17 and KC-30 are for. All very political. Wouldn’t want awkward questions asked in Parliament. They would say they are cautiously expanding the envelope of Atlas without taking any undue risks while enjoying a plethora of riches. I mean, what other Air Force has C-17, A400M, C-130J and KC-30 to chose from? Bottom line is there is no urgency here, unlike the French. The RAF are deploying A400M further afield, for longer and in contested theatres, so they are slowly pushing the envelope.

Daniele Mandelli

MPs in Parliament, and ministers, should serve a few months in the forces to understand them.

All have their role, which should be simple – C17 – outsize loads, med evac / Atlas, general strategic lift / Hercs, were same, reduced to tactical & SF support /Voyager, AAR and troop transport.

Sceptical Richard

Can’t disagree with any of that. Except that one day Hercs will have to stand down. One would hope that by then RAF will be fully exploiting the Atlas’ excellent tactical capabilities.

Daniele Mandelli

Then they will need replacing.

22 Atlas for our routine transport tasks plus supporting DSF is not enough.

Steve Martin

They’re in service until 2030 or so now, so pretty soon (3-4 years) something needs to be planned in?

Daniele Mandelli

I read that DSF has some clout, considering UKSF is always in vogue with HMG for obvious reasons, so there should be some replacement.

Sceptical Richard

When I was still in the loop talk was that it was only a matter of time before RAF acquired more Atlas. We shall see…

Mr Bell

More Atlas or more Poseidon? I would go for Poseidon, unless we do get a Brexit dividend and uk economy takes off freeing up more money for HMG to close down some of our capability and numerical deficiencies.

The 3000

Why would you risk an unproven, unreliable and decidedly delicate asset for a critical resupply mission when you have another platform with a long proven history of getting the job done? Why do you think such fanfare is made every time the A400m achieves something? And media blackouts are imposed every time something goes wrong? For example gear boxes exploding, wheels falling off on rotate! And don’t even start on their hanger (apparently the roof is optional)!