Key considerations when moving military equipment to Europe

As the war in Ukraine continues with no sign of abating, the need for military equipment has become critical to the nation’s defence. The Australian Government continues to commit resources, equipment and military assistance to Ukraine, including additional Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles and training personnel. These latest measures take Australia’s overall contribution to Ukraine to more than AUD$655 million. 

Moving equipment from Australia to Europe can be challenging and more so when it involves the military and military goods. So what are some key aspects and tips to consider when moving gear?

Documentation

Correct documentation is the key to the successful transportation of cargo and not being held up in foreign customs. Key considerations are that:

  • Your product meets the requirements under the NATO agreement
  • Has a Defence Export Permit
  • Includes a comprehensive packing list and invoice if goods are being sold
  • Ensures the end user certificates are correct.
  • List standards on how it is packed

Packaging

  • Cargo should be packed in a very sturdy case, preferably high-impact resistant pelican-style cases. 
  • Rolling equipment should be presented with enough fuel to start and move short distances around ports and airports. 
  • Any rolling equipment must have a start and stop operations guide so that the units can be moved without any issues. 
  • Ordnance and weapons need to be packed as per the manufacturer’s standard with anti-tamper seals. 
  • Aircraft have limitations on explosive ordnance and how much can be carried. 
  • All permits must be in place when moving weapons and explosives.

Transporting dangerous goods 

All dangerous goods cargo must be declared and fully certified prior to transport and uplift. Cargo is required to be screened and checked by a fully authorised and licensed dangerous goods operator prior to being lodged for carriage. Every airline, ocean carrier and road transport operator must adhere to these regulations as dangerous goods can be a potential hazard if not handled and stored in the correct manner.

Route and mode selection

Cargo into Ukraine or any conflict zone does not necessarily follow standard airline and sea carriers routes. In the case of Ukraine, there are several entry points through NATO-aligned countries and cargo must be moved in accordance with the requirements laid out by NATO and the Commonwealth.

In the event an urgent movement is required then the obvious solution will be air. Sea freight for large items may be a favourable solution when cost-effectiveness is paramount, but when equipment is needed urgently, may not be an option.  

Plane charter

If time is of the essence, cargo security is an issue or cargo is oversized, a plane charter could be a good option. TGI Cargo handles a large number of air charters each year and has regularly chartered the An-124 and II-76 aircraft for various organisations, along with a number 747 freighters. 

Moving cargo by air is a specialist area and is the best way for rapid insertion of high-value and urgent material and equipment. The operation is typically fully controlled by the charter party and in many cases will have a full security team on board accompanying the cargo. 

Air movements require meticulous planning and are never as simple as going to the airport with the cargo. Planning is crucial to a successful outcome, and carriers require upfront payment before operations start. TGI Cargo has had its own aircraft in the past operating out of Papua New Guinea and various locations around the Indo-Pacific region. We have also run charters into and out of Iraq during the Iraq War for various companies needing high-value equipment to be delivered in theatre.

Arrival in Europe

It is important that the supplier understands all the rules and regulations for arrival into Europe and what happens if these regulations are not adhered to. Liaising with your freight forwarder who will discuss the matters with the customs agents in Europe along with the ground handling team should alleviate any unnecessary delays and confusion.

All cargo arriving in Europe for Ukraine will be trucked to a forward operating base (FOB) before delivery into Ukraine. Some operators in Europe are going into areas within Ukraine, but this is very high risk and holds the potential for loss of life.

Security

Security is paramount when delivering goods into Ukraine. All cargo arriving will be pre-alerted and have an on-ground team to meet the cargo and ensure secure receipt and delivery to the designated FOB.

Given how much there is to consider when moving military equipment and goods into Europe, partnering with a freight forwarding company with experience in this area is often critical to ensuring a successful delivery.

Written by TGI Cargo

04 November 2022

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