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Boeing has delivered the UK’s sixth C-17 Globemaster III to the Royal Air Force (RAF) during a ceremony at the company's Long Beach C-17 manufacturing facility.

The C-17 will operate out of RAF Brize Norton to provide critical airlift capability for the Joint Rapid Reaction Force.

Jean Chamberlin, Boeing vice-president and C-17 program manager, said: ‘The RAF has repeatedly demonstrated the C-17's advanced capabilities in support of UK operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by providing critical humanitarian aid in numerous locations around the world.’

RAF C-17s recently provided humanitarian relief to the victims of tsunamis in South East Asia and the earthquakes in Pakistan.

It is the world's only tactical airlift aircraft with strategic capabilities that allow it to fly between continents and land on short, austere runways.

Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Leeson, assistant chief of the defence staff for logistic operations, said: ‘Whether [RAF] C-17s are serving in combat or on humanitarian missions, we know they are often the difference between life and death.’

C-17s are currently operational in the US, Britain, Australia and Canada.