The rare sight of two US military aircraft on the ground at Stornoway airport is causing discussion among aviation enthusiasts today (Thursday 8 April).
The two C26 Metroliner aircraft, which arrived into Stornoway yesterday afternoon and remained overnight, have departed this afternoon for Keflavik airport, the main international hub for civilian and military air traffic in Iceland.
The two C26 Metroliner aircraft are operational with the US Air Force, which recently deployed 200 personnel and a bomber squadron to Ørland airbase in Norway to help set up support for Norway’s F-35 jet fighter fleet.
In February, the US Air Force’s European Command announced that the squad represented ‘the advance team for scheduled missions in the coming weeks’.
The American military are sharpening focus on the Arctic region and Norway shares a border with Russia, which is known to be modernising military facilities on the Kola peninsula, making the area a potential flashpoint.
These two specific C-26 aircraft, which are not carrying USAF colours, landed in Stornoway yesterday afternoon and have remained at the island airfield overnight.
It’s not known what their destination is or what operational needs they may be intended to fulfil. They have been operational out of Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Herat airfields in Afghanistan over recent weeks.
C26 Metroliners are multipurpose, low-wing, twin-engine monoplanes which provide rapid-response transports for high-priority resupply and movement of key personnel to remote, unserviced or feeder sites.
They can be quickly transformed internally to operate as medical evacuation planes, for the transport of troops or cargo carrying.
Pictures show the two aircraft on the ground in Stornoway yesterday (Wednesday) and are by Jason Spinks.