Airlift Kabul

Large-scale evacuations of foreign citizens and some vulnerable Afghan citizens took place amid the withdrawal of US and several other forces from the War in Afghanistan in August 2021. The evacuation operations were one of the largest airlifts in history. Over 122,000 people were airlifted abroad. In addition to the military assets employed, dozens of airlines from all over the world are also helping move Afghan evacuees to safer locations. The US had also activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF).


Note: All photos are copyright by,,, and respectively the shown photographers on the images. To size photos to same size, some had to be cut in the upper part to keep copyright visible. Information by Wikipedia,, and squadron websites.

Following part of the operation on, a collection of reported aircrafts are shown below (click on picture to enlarge).


Here en route two RAF A400M behind each other tracked from Dubai Al Minhad Air Base to Kabul.

Some numbers about tracked aircrafts 


- service units, squadrons from: AMC, ANG, AETC, AFRC, ACC, PACAF, SAC, SRS, SOS, US Navy* and CRAF*

- aircrafts: 34 C-17A, 6 KC-10, 18 KC-135, 3 RC-135, 3 E-11A, 2 B-52*, 1 E-3 AWACS* + many C-130/C-130J

Other AF:

- service units, squadrons from: NATO, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, France, Poland,        Turkey, Qatar, UAE. France and Germany A400M were in Kabul but never visible, other like India missed.

- aircrafts: 8 C-17A, 9 A400M, 6 A-330 MRTT/KC-3*, 1 KC-767* + many C-130/C-130J

   * didn't enter airspace of Afghanistan

Air Mobility Command (AMC)

60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB / California

62nd Airlift Wing, McChord AFB / Washington

6th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill AFB / Florida

22d Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB / Kansas

437th Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB / South Carolina

305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire AFB / New Jersey

436th Airlift Wing, Dover AFB / Delaware

92d Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild AFB / Washington

Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)

909th Air Refueling Squadron "Young Tigers",  Kadena AB / Okinawa, Japan.

 United States Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC)

 380th Air Expeditionary Wing,  Al Dhafra Air Base / UAE

Air Education and Training Command (AETC)

97th Training Squadron, Altus AFB / Oklahoma

Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)

452d Air Refueling Wing, March AFB / California

445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson AFB / Ohio

Air National Guard (ANG)

164th Airlift Wing, Memphis ANGB / Tennessee

142d Airlift Squadron,  New Castle ANGB / Delaware

167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg ANGB / West Virginia

183d Airlift Squadron, Thompson ANGB / Mississippi

128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin AFB / Wis.

Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC)

SAC is based at the Hungarian Defence Forces (HDF) Pápa Air Base. The SAC nations consist of NATO members and NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations Finland and Sweden.

Airlift out of Kabul were regulary provided to Tbilisi (Georgia) 

USAF RC-135 Rivet Joint

The RC-135V/W is the USAF's standard airborne SIGINT platform.

38th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Offutt AFB / Nebraska. 

95th Reconnaissance Squadron, RAF Mildenhall / UK


USAF E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN)

The E-11A, a heavily modified Bombardier Global 6000 business jet, acts as “Wi-Fi in the sky.” It was used circling over Kabul, connecting troops on the ground, communications systems and radios. Before leaving Afghanistan they have been operated by 430th Expeditionary Combat Squadron at Kabul.

US Air Force C-130

Several USAF C-130 flew without code in and out of Afghanistan to Dubai Al Minhad Air Base, Al Dhafra Air Force Base in the UAE and Qatar Al Udeid Air Base.

Air Force Special Operations Command 

Four squadrons that presently fly the U-28A: 5th, 34th, 318th and 319 Special Operations Squadrons (SOS). The U-28A provides airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, search and rescue, and special operations missions. At present, the Air Force's Draco fleet consists of 28 aircraft in total. U-28A 04-0688 was tracked when flying out of Afghanistan.

USAF B-52 bomber

On two occasion B-52 accompanied by KC-135 flew from/to Qatar Al Udeid Air Base. As reported by press, the USAF had positioned two B-52 bombers in Qatar to support the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

US Navy support aircraft

According to Pentagon, it kept the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Mideast to support the withdrawal. It was served by Grumman C-2 Greyhound VRC-30 "Providers" (homebase: NAS North Island, San Diego, California) out of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar with several shuttle flights. On patrol over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman was Lockheed EP-3E Aries II 887 tracked.

Royal Air Force (RAF)

The RAF used about 15 aircraft during the evacuation mission, with half staged forward — transporting passengers from Kabul to other cities in the Middle East — and the other planes conducting flights from those cities to the United Kingdom. Over the two-week period C-17s, A400s and C-130Js moving in and out of Kabul Airport. Voyager KC.3 provided flights from Dubai Al Minhad Air Base to Brize Norton/UK.

99 Squadron, RAF / Brize Norton

47 Squadron, RAF / Brize Norton

70 Squadron, RAF / Brize Norton

10 Squadron, RAF / Brize Norton

NATO /  Netherlands

The European member states Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and the Czech Republic participate in the Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU) of NATO . They formed a joint pool of nine A330 MRTTs , that carries the national emblem. 

Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU), Eindhoven / Netherland

Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) 

The QEAF Transport Squadron operates eight C-17 Globemaster and four C-130J-30.

Taliban leader and co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, returned August 17th to Afghanistan for the first time in more than 10 years on a QEAF C-17A flight.

United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) 

UAEAF operates six C-17A since 2012.

Heavy Transport Squadron, Abu Dhabi/Intl / UAE

Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK)

Turkish Air Force A400M and C-130 evacuated people from the Afghan capital Kabul mainly to Islamabad, Pakistan.

Royal Australien Air Force (RAAF)

RAAF reported 32 rescue flights out of Kabul with C-17A and C-130J.

Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)

The C-130 aircraft and crew completed three flights to Kabul.

Aeronautica Militare Italy 

As part of the European Air Transport Command , it is equipped with four Boeing KC-767A , which are used for air refueling and transport. The 46ª Brigata Aerea operates with  50º Gruppo ten C-130J-30.

8º Gruppo, Pratica di Mare AFB /  Pomezia, Italy

50º Gruppo, Pisa AFB / Toscana, Italy

Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace / France

France ordered a total of fifteen A 330 MRTT. The last tanker should be delivered by 2022. For the airlift out of Kabul it operated A400M transporter.

31st Squadron,  Istres-Le Tubé / France

Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KM) 

Royal Netherlands Air Force flew between August 18 to 26 evacuation flights to Dubai Al Minhad Air Base with two C-130 from Kabul.

336 Squadron, Eindhoven AB / Eindhoven NL.

Ejército del Aire, Spain

In total, the Spanish Air Force has ordered 27 A400Ms from Airbus – of which eight have been delivered to date. 

31st Wing, Zaragoza Air Base / Spain

Siły Powietrzne (Polish Air Force) / Poland

PAF operates 5 C-130E.

14th Aviation Squadron, Powidz / Poland

Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF)

For just the third time in history, the US Department of Defense has activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) to assist with the transportation of evacuees and refugees from Afghanistan. The CRAF aircraft didn't flew to Kabul, but they carried passengers from bases in the Middle East to Europe and the United States.

The US Department of Defense has activated 18 aircraft from six airlines to participate in operation, likely to last a few weeks. Airlines required to provide aircraft include: American Airlines (3), Atlas Air (3), Delta Air Lines (3), Hawaiian Airlines (2), Omni Air International (3), and United Airlines (4).

Charter operated aircrafts

More than 60 chartered and commercial aircraft had flown out of Kabul and airports in Qatar and UAE. 

Kam Air, flew regulary during the airlift with its two A-340 from Kabul to UAE.