Marking the end of 32 years of operations in the Middle East, the C-21A Learjet took its last flight out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, June 30, 2023, setting course for its new home at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.The primary mission of the C-21 was to provide transportation for distinguished visitors throughout the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR), as well as support aeromedical evacuation operations by transporting life-saving medical supplies. In addition to U.S. passengers, C-21s transported joint and coalition-distinguished visitors to important meetings with world leaders.
“Able to carry up to eight passengers, the C-21 is the U.S. Air Force’s quickest and easiest option for moving small groups of distinguished visitors in the Middle East. Tactically efficient travel for the Combined Forces Air Component Commander to highly important meetings was a primary mission for the past decade; we even operated in combat zones where defensive systems were required. This is where the famous combat Learjet rhetoric ‘unaware, unafraid’ came from,” said Maj. Jonathan Daniels, 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron C-21 Detachment director of operations.
The C-21 has deployed to Southwest Asia, providing time-sensitive movement of people and cargo in support of operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, ENDURING FREEDOM, FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, INHERENT RESOLVE, RESOLUTE SUPPORT, NORTHERN WATCH, and SOUTHERN WATCH. During operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, C-21s even delivered the classified air tasking orders to units lacking the ability to receive these daily orders electronically, including U-2 photos for intelligence analysis and spare parts for disabled aircraft. The achievements of the C-21 mission out of AUAB could not have been possible without its crew who had much to say about their experiences and the significance of bringing the aircraft home.
The C-21A aircraft will continue its legacy with the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott AFB, providing first-class operational support and aeromedical evacuation airlift. The 375th Air Mobility Wing (375 AMW) is a unit of the United States Air Force stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois and assigned to Eighteenth Air Force under Air Mobility Command (AMC). The wing has four primary missions. It supports aeromedical evacuation within the United States. It provides operational support airlift for government officials. It offers direct security for U.S. community and nation. And it provides support for U.S. host units—making possible the command and control of the United States’ entire military transportation effort.