CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - The completion of a water bottling plant here took a major step forward on March 23, of the world's second largest airplanes, an Antonov An-124, landed at adjacent Ali Air Base with a cargo of water bottling equipment.

The sight of the huge airplane circling the air base prior to landing caused a stir among residents here.

Dozens of onlookers flocked to the runway to view the unusual plane and watch it payload being unloaded. The payload was a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) blow injection molder system, made by Veneto, Italy's Societa Industrializzazione Progettazione Automazione (SIPA).

The bottle molder machine, the largest piece of the system, weighed 39 tons and was larger than a semitrailer. A half-dozen flatbed trucks were needed to move the equipment from the air base to the plant.

According to Chief Warrant 2 Stuart Stupka, 287th Sustainment Brigade support operations general services office chief, resident of Hays, Kan., the machines will be used by the Al Morrell Oasis International Water Development plant which is currently being built on base to make and bottle fresh water using the water from the Euphrates River.

"The equipment came from a portable bottling plant originally located at Camp Taqqadum, west of Baghdad. That plant was dismantled and its parts moved here. The PET machine delivered today is the main component for the new plant. With it, they'll be able to make plastic containers to bottle the water," he said

"The plant itself is scheduled to begin production May 31. Thereafter, COB Adder will be the main source for fresh water for all of southern Iraq," said Stupka.

The Antonov An-124 which first flew in 1982, was manufactured by Russia's Aviastar-SP and the Kyiv Aviation Plant, AVIANT, in Ukraine. Twenty-five percent larger than the American-built C-5 Galaxy, the Antonov An-124 has a payload of 150 tons and is often used to deliver humanitarian aid in large quantities throughout the world. Over 40 Antonov An-124s are currently in use by Russia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Libya.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16