Britain’s Royal Air Force has been running near-daily flights with a C-17 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft from Romania to an airbase in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi since early this month, data from flight tracking websites have shown.
People familiar with the matter said the flights were apparently linked to a mission in support of Ukraine. It was not immediately clear what sort of equipment was being airlifted by the massive RAF aircraft. The Globemaster can carry up to 77,000 kg of cargo.
The flights, via the RAF’s Akrotiri base on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, were first spotted by social media accounts using open-source intelligence such as flight tracking websites. The flights involved a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III of the RAF with the call sign ‘ZZ173’.
There has been no official word from authorities in Britain, Romania or Pakistan about these flights, which have been tracked since at least August 6. The same Globamaster aircraft was tracked in Pakistani airspace on Tuesday, flying from Cyprus to the Pakistan Air Force’s Nur Khan air base in Rawalpindi.
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The flight tracking websites showed that the RAF flights flew through Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Oman airspaces before entering Pakistan, skirting the airspace of Iran and Afghanistan.
The British government under prime minister Boris Johnson has been at the forefront of efforts to assist Ukraine’s armed forces following Russia’s invasion of the eastern European country in February.
Twitter user The Intel Consortium, with the handle @INTELPSF, said in a post that most Ukrainian large artillery guns use 155mm ammunition. “Ukrainian warplanners have said the best aid they can get is 155mm artillery ammunition. The US recently sent 75,000 rounds of it to Ukraine. Guess who else makes that ammunition: Pakistan Ordinance Factory,” he said in a tweet.
“Pakistan also has over 320 Ukrainian T-80UD tanks in service, and a completely developed ecosystem of their maintenance, operation, ammunition, and spare parts,” the account further claimed.
The Pakistan Ordnance Factory also makes small arms ammunition compatible with Ukrainian military standard-issue rifles,” it said in another tweet.
Pakistan and Ukraine have close military ties and Islamabad has posted retired military officers as envoys to Kyiv for more than a decade.