10 largest military transport planes ever built
Transportation is a role entrusted to various types of vehicles on land, sea and in the air. Especially in the military, transport vehicles are essential for the logistics of an army, because military equipment and manpower need a continuous supply like fuel and food. However, large enough transport vehicles can transport entire units, such as main battle tanks or aircraft.
At sea, there are many types of ships that can carry tanks and other armored vehicles, helicopters, drones and soldiers. On land, we have military trucks to transport equipment and supplies while armored personnel carriers are responsible for transporting soldiers safely to the battlefield. In the air, we have transport helicopters and transport planes. Some of these planes are so big they can carry hundreds of soldiers, a bunch of military vehicles, or tons of supplies. Let’s take a look at these air vehicles by classifying them by their total capability.
ten Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules
The American tactical transport aircraft can carry up to 19 tons, 92 soldiers, 6 pallets, 2-3 HMMWV vehicles or an M113 armored personnel carrier. Even if you think that’s already enough, take a look at its big brother, the C-130J-30 version, which has a capacity of 128 soldiers or 8 pallets. The aircraft can carry cargo with a maximum weight of 20 tons, while it has a wingspan of 130 feet.
9 Shaanxi Y-9
Chinese tactical airlifters have been produced in large numbers since their arrival in the country’s air force. Shaanxi can carry up to 25, although this quantity can be extended to 30 tons if deemed necessary.
Y-9 can accommodate 106 passengers, 132 paratroopers or 72 boxes. Since China upgraded its land vehicle fleet, Shaanxi has plenty of options for loading.
8 Airbus A400M
The Airbus A400M program is multinational since it has been ordered by at least ten countries. The medium-range aircraft can carry up to 37 tons of cargo, while it has enough space internally for two 8×8 armored vehicles. If you think two vehicles aren’t impressive enough, wait for the next plane on the list.
The A400M comes with a wingspan of 140 feet and a length of 150 feet.
seven Kawasaki C-2
Yes, Kawasaki is known for its successful motorcycles and yes, it is quite strange that the company has produced something like a military transport aircraft. But the C-2 has a maximum capacity of 37.6 tons and enough space for 120 soldiers or 8 pallets of cargo. Kawasaki C-2 can also carry a UH-60J helicopter. A helicopter inside a plane… that’s cool, isn’t it?
The C-2 has a wingspan of 145 feet and twin turbofan engines, powerful enough to provide long range for the aircraft.
6 Ilyushin Il-76
The strategic airlifter is the backbone of the Russian Air Force, as more than 800 units were produced. The Il-76 can transport up to 50 tons of cargo, as it was specially designed to transport heavy vehicles, systems, machines, etc. in remote areas. It is also capable of operating in the extreme weather conditions of Siberia and the Arctic region.
Il-76 has a wingspan of 165 feet and a length of 150 feet. Its empty weight is 72 tons, although the aircraft can take off with a maximum weight of 190 tons.
5 Xian Y-20
The specific aircraft is a new addition to the Chinese Armed Forces fleet with a maximum load of 60-66 tons. Xian has a decent range, while it can carry even the biggest main battle tanks, like the Type 99 tanks.
The heavy-lift aircraft, which began service in 2016, has a wingspan of 150ft and a top speed of 470-500mph.
4 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
C-17 has been the ideal solution for strategic airlift missions since 1995. In that year, Globemaster III began service with the US Air Force. The aircraft carries up to 76.7 tons of cargo, it can carry one M1A2 Abrams tank, three Stryker armored vehicles of 8×8 configuration or three AH-64 Apache helicopters.
Globemaster III comes with a high-tech cockpit and four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines which provide the aircraft with a top speed of 507 mph.
3 Antonov An-22
The An-22 is the largest turboprop aircraft in the world. In 1965, the year of its introduction, it was the largest aircraft overall. So, given this, it is easier to believe that the An-22 can carry up to 80 tons or four BMD-2 infantry fighting vehicles. An interesting mission configuration is 290 men or 150 paratroopers.
The plane’s four engines produce 15,000 hp and are capable of flying at a top speed of 460 mph.
2 Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy
The C-5M is the largest aircraft in the US Air Force and of course the most reliable in its category for strategic transport. Super Galaxy can carry up to 130 tons of payload and has enough space for two M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, seven to ten 8×8 armored vehicles or even sixteen HMMWVs. It is enormous !
Super Galaxy has a wingspan of 223 feet. Its range with 54.4 tons of payload is 6,040 miles, while with maximum payload that number is reduced to almost 3,730 miles.
1 Antonov An-124
This aircraft serves the Russian Armed Forces and is the largest military transport aircraft still in production. Only the An-225 has a larger size, but unfortunately the plane was destroyed during the Russian-Ukrainian war. The An-124 can carry up to 150 tons of cargo, and internally it can carry all available Russian armored fighting vehicles, helicopters or oversized cargo.
In Russia, the huge plane is called “Ruslan”, while its NATO designation is “Condor”. The Russian “Ruslan” comes after a giant in a local legend. Its development began in 1971 and the heavy transport aircraft was ready for service in 1987. It is estimated that the Russian Air Force operates at least 40 An-124s.
Compared to the Air Force’s largest military transport aircraft, the C-5M Super Galaxy, the An-124 has a 25% greater capacity. Its dimensions are of course really impressive too. The length of the aircraft is 226.7 feet, its wingspan is 240 feet, and its height is 69 feet. Empty, the An-124 weighs nearly 175 tons.
Its maximum cruising speed is 537 miles per hour, while it has a maximum range of 2,800 miles when flying with maximum payload. When carrying 40 tons, “Condor” can reach a distance of up to 7,456 miles. These figures are achieved thanks to four ZMKB Progress D-18T turbofans.