Transportation is a role that is given to various types of vehicles on land, sea, and air. Especially in the military, transport vehicles are critical for the logistics of an army, as military equipment and manpower need continuous supplies like fuel and food. Although, transport vehicles that are big enough can carry whole units, like 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 for transporting equipment and supplies, while armored personnel carriers are responsible for the safe transportation of soldiers on the battlefield. In the air, we have transport helicopters and transport aircraft. Some of these aircraft are so big that they can carry hundreds of soldiers, a bunch of military vehicles, or tons of supplies. Let’s have a look at these aerial vehicles while ranking them by their total capacity.
10/10 Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules
The US tactical transport aircraft can carry a load of up to 19 tones, 92 soldiers, 6 pallets, 2-3 HMMWV vehicles, or one M113 armored personnel carrier. Even if you think that’s already enough, take a look at its bigger 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 tonnes, while it has a wingspan of 130 feet.
9/10 Shaanxi Y-9
The Chinese tactical transport aircraft have been produced in great numbers since they arrived in the air force of the country. Shaanxi can carry up to 25 ones, although that amount can be extended to 30 tonnes if it’s considered necessary.
Y-9 has space for 106 passengers, 132 paratroopers, or 72 crates. Since China has been modernizing its land fleet of vehicles, Shaanxi has a lot of available options for the load.
8/10 Airbus A400M
Airbus A400M’s program is multinational, as it has been ordered by at least ten countries. The medium-range aircraft can carry up to 37 tonnes of cargo, while it has enough space internally for two 8×8 armored vehicles. If you believe two vehicles aren’t impressive enough, wait for the next aircraft on the list.
The A400M comes with a wingspan of 140 feet and a length of 150 feet.
7/10 Kawasaki C-2
Yes, Kawasaki is known for their successful motorcycles and yes, it’s pretty odd that the company has produced something like a military transport aircraft. But the C-2 has a maximum capacity of 37,6 tonnes and enough space for 120 soldiers, or 8 cargo pallets. Kawasaki C-2 can also carry a UH-60J helicopter. A helicopter inside an aircraft… that’s cool, right?
The C-2 has a wingspan of 145 feet and twin-turbofan engines, powerful enough to provide long range to the aircraft.
6/10 Ilyushin Il-76
The strategical transport aircraft is the backbone of the Russian air force, as more than 800 units have been produced. Il-76 can carry up to 50 tonnes of cargo, as it was specially designed to transport heavy vehicles, systems, machines, and more in remote areas. It’s 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 weight when empty is 72 tons, although the aircraft can take off with a maximum weight of 190 tons.
5/10 Xian Y-20
The specific aircraft is a new addition to the fleet of the Chinese armed forces with a maximum load of 60-66 tonnes. Xian features a decent range, while it can carry even the biggest main battle tanks, like the Type 99 tanks.
The heavy transport aircraft, which started serving in 2016, has a wingspan of 150 feet and has a maximum speed of 470-500 mph.
4/10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
C-17 is the perfect fit for strategic transportation missions since 1995. In that year, Globemaster III started serving the US Air Force. The aircraft takes cargo up to 76,7 tonnes, it can carry an M1A2 Abrams tank, three Stryker armored vehicles with 8×8 configuration, or three AH-64 Apache helicopters.
Globemaster III comes with a high-tech cockpit and four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofans engines that provide the aircraft with a maximum speed of 507 mph.
3/10 Antonov An-22
An-22 is the biggest turboprop aircraft in the world. In 1965, the year that it was introduced, it was the biggest aircraft in general. So, considering this, it is easier to believe that An-22 can carry up to 80 tonnes or four BMD-2 infantry fighting vehicles. An interesting mission configuration is 290 men or 150 paratroopers.
The four engines of the aircraft produce 15,000 hp and are able to take fly at a maximum speed of 460 mph.
2/10 Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy
C-5M is the biggest aircraft of the US Air Force and of course the most reliable in its class for strategic transportation. Super Galaxy can carry up to 130 tonnes of load and features enough space for two M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, seven to ten 8×8 armored vehicles, or even sixteen HMMWVs. That’s enormous!
Super Galaxy features a wingspan of 223 feet. Its range with 54.4 tons of payload is 6,040 miles, while with maximum payload this number is reduced to almost 3,730 miles.
1/10 Antonov An-124
This aircraft serves the Russian armed forces and is the biggest military transport aircraft still in production. Only the An-225 has a bigger size, but unfortunately the aircraft was destroyed during the Russo-Ukrainian war. An-124 can carry up to 150 tonnes of load, and internally it can transport every available Russian armored combat vehicle, helicopter, or oversized cargo.
In Russia, the huge aircraft is called “Ruslan”, while its NATO designation is “Condor”. The Russian “Ruslan” comes after a giant in a local legend. Its development started in 1971 and the heavy transport aircraft was ready to serve in 1987. It is estimated that the Russian Air Force operates at least 40 An-124s.
When compared with the biggest military transport aircraft of the US Air Force, the C-5M Super Galaxy, An-124 has a 25% larger capacity. Its dimensions are of course really impressive too. The length of the plane is 226.7 feet, its wingspan is 240 feet and its height is 69 feet. While empty, An-124 weights almost 175 tonnes.
Its maximum cruising speed is 537 miles per hour, while it features a maximum range of 2,800 miles during flights with maximum payload. When carrying 40 tonnes, “Condor” can reach a distance up to 7,456 miles. That numbers are being achieved due to four ZMKB Progress D-18T turbofan engines.