Australians learn from U.S. C-17 mission
By Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais , Air Force Print News
/ Published June 01, 2006
TOWNSVILLE, Australia (AFPN) --
Two C-17 Globemaster IIIs from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, arrived here last week at the Australian Defense Force’s request. U.S. Airmen are moving Australian forces and equipment to Darwin, Australia, to allow the Australian military to quickly respond to unrest in neighboring East Timor.
Each aircraft made the 1,000-mile trip four times in only two days. So far, more than 1 million pounds of cargo have been palletized, loaded, secured, flown to Darwin and unloaded.
The Australians know what the C-17 is capable of, which is why they asked for help. But planning and executing real-world missions with the American aircraft is also a welcome training opportunity for the Australian military.
“We are actually getting four C-17s online next year,” said Warrant Officer Vivianne Northover of the Joint Movement Control Office at Royal Australian Air Force Base Townsville. “This enables us to actually get hands-on practice with the C-17, which will enable us to transition easily next year when they come online to the Australian Defense Force.”
The C-17’s strategic airlift capability makes it perfect for moving large amounts of cargo quickly. However, the Australians are used to operating with their C-130s, and didn’t know exactly what would fit into a C-17. Air transportation experts deployed from Hickam to ensure the cargo was loaded safely.
“We’re mostly finding that height is an issue,” said Master Sgt. Carl Lane, 15th Logistics Readiness Squadron's Combat Mobility Element.
“If you look around the yard, you’ll see that a lot of the equipment out here is over 150 inches. You’ll run into problems not only loading that, but inside the plane, where you can park it in the aircraft,” he said.
With additional shuttles to Darwin planned, the Australians have a few more learning opportunities ahead. The lessons they learn about the C-17 will come in handy early next year when their fleet arrives. In the meantime, the airlift mission is quickly getting their cargo where it needs to be.
“We’ve been working on limited support from C-130 operations,” Warrant Officer Northover said. “This has certainly enhanced our operations in terms of turnaround time in concentrating the troops in Darwin.”