Washington, DC – Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has activated Stage I of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF). This activation will provide the Department of Defense access to commercial aircraft to boost their efforts in the evacuating of U.S. citizens and personnel, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the current activation is for 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines. DoD does not anticipate a major impact to commercial flights from this activation.
The aircraft will not fly into Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. They will facilitate the movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases allowing US military aircraft to focus on operations in and out of Kabul, said Kirby.
CRAF is a National Emergency Preparedness Program designed to enhance the Department’s airlift capability and is a core component of USTRANSCOM’s ability to meet national security interests and contingency requirements. Under CRAF, the commercial carriers retain their Civil Status under FAA regulations while USTRANSCOM exercises mission control via its air component, Air Mobility Command.
This is the third CRAF activation in the history of the program. The first activation was in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm (Aug. 1990 to May 1991), and the second was for Operation Iraqi Freedom (Feb. 2002 to June 2003).