Special Air Mission Wing Ministery of Defence
The foundation stone for flights of the Special Mission Air Wing (MoD) was laid with the transfer of a four-propeller engined
aircraft “De Havilland Heron 114” on 1 February 1957 from England down to Cologne-Wahn.
A few months later the types Douglas DC-3 and Piaggio P-149D followed.
The delivery of the first Boeing 707 in 1968 initialized the jet age for the wing and opened new dimensions
in strategic transport as well as VIP-transportation until 1998, when first two machines were given away to the
NATO AWACS-Base in Geilenkirchen as TCA (trainer-cargo aircraft).
Until today a total of 22 different aircraft types have been in use so far.
In 1990 - as a result of the German reunification - the wing obtained also various former GDR aircraft (e.g. Tupolew Tu 154)
and personell at their intermittent outpost in southern Berlin.
While this era the wing received also its first Airbus A310.
MRTT - a smart concept
In 1999 the first Airbus A310 was reconstructed to the multi-role transport-version (MRT).
By October 2001 three more A310 aircraft were converted, while one aircraft is still in use as troop carrier, the Airbus A310 PAX.
Until 2011 all MRT were upgraded to MRTT - Multi Role Transport Tanker -, which diversified the use of the A310 also in a tanker-role.
The MRTT is a pioneering concept for the future: With the installation of various equipment kits, it is possible to operate the
aircraft as a transporter, a troop transporter, VIP-tranport, as AirMedEvac-variant or as a tanker.
The MRTT-concept will be also applied on the Airbus A400M.
Worldwide Air Transport
More than 1.000 soldiers and civilian employees work for this wing, with alone about 450 people engaged in the maintenance and
repair of technical equipment. The preparation and implementation of operations in the long-, medium- and short distances is
considered to be the core mission of this wing, preparing e.g. flights to support international humanitarian relief-missions.
While additionally VIP-flights are conducted at the national level (with Airbus A340-400, Airbus CJ319, Bombardier Global 5000
and Cougar AS532), the Special Air Mission Wing (MoD) is also respected for its commitment in transport of wounded
and sick soldiers (AirMedEvac) on EATC conduction. Since the terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001,
one MedEvac-Airbus is constantly ready at the Cologne-Wahn airport.
Text: Norbert Thomas
Pictures: Luftwaffe.de, Norbert Thomas, Ulrich Metternich