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Priority Worldwide Delivers Defence Equipment to a remote air base in Somalia

The US government works extensively with UN & international partners to provide counter-terrorism surveillance in many remote parts of Africa & the Middle East.

Priority Worldwide was recently selected to perform a very complex & sensitive shipment from the USA to a US military air base, deep in the heart of a contested area of Somalia.

The Challenge

To deliver 25,000 kgs of oversized dimension & sensitive equipment from Virginia, USA to Baledogle Airfield in Somalia by air & within a short time-window during a COVID-pandemic and amidst a precarious security situation in this part of Somalia. Additionally, the destination airfield is a part-asphalt/part dirt-strip airfield with a short runway, limiting further the aircraft operation.

The Solution

Priority Worldwide has a long history of air charter procurement around the world and needed to dig deep into its repertoire to find a workable solution for this freight. Given the commodity and its destination, there was no regular “commercial” solution neither many airlines able to accept such a transportation.

Priority arranged collection in Virginia, US and trucked the entire consignment to Chicago O’Hare airport where the freight was sent on a commercial Boeing 747F freighter service to Baku, Azerbaijan. From Baku, the shipment was next routed to Dubai World Central, UAE where the cargo was consigned to our Dubai, UAE office & clearing agent partner. The shipment was very carefully handled at the trans-shipment point and necessary customs approvals / security and ministry approvals were taken.

Due to the dimensions of the cargo, the second leg required Priority to organise 2 x IL76 special ramp-door loading aircraft charters from Dubai World Central Airport to Mogadishu Airport, Somalia. These 2 charter flights had to arrive in Somalia during daylight hours only. The cargo was consigned to our 3rd leg airline partner in Mogadishu airport and special customs pre-approvals were facilitated via the embassy in Somalia.

The final and 3rd leg required the cargo to be transloaded from the twin IL76 arrivals and palletised on 463L military pallets, ready for loading onto a C160-Transall short-field tactical aircraft with a large ramp cargo door. Due to the volume of the freight, a total of 5 x C160 flights were completed on the short leg from Mogadishu Airport to Baledogle Airfield. These flights were completed within 2.5 days, with all arrivals at the Baledogle Airfield needing to be pre-manifested and communicated to the military tower.

Teddy Pendleton, Director of Government Programs at Priority Worldwide said “The overall Program Mgmt. support of this endeavor was impressive.  Synchronizing the readiness of the cargo, as well as the overflight and landing permits with the actual execution was true challenge. The performance was exceptional and exceeded the client’s expectations.”

Stuart Smith, Director of Emergency Response & Special Operations commented “The unique access conditions to Baledogle airfield meant we had to select a very specialised aircraft operation for the final-mile delivery. The safety & security of the cargo during transit was also an important factor. A huge amount of co-ordination & team-work went into this shipment”