The arrangement permits C-17A technicians from the US Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force to conduct maintenance activities on each other’s aircraft.
Air Vice-Marshal Steve Roberton, Air Commander Australia, said the Aircraft Repair and Maintenance Service Implementing Arrangement (ARMS-IA) will provide greater flexibility to C-17A operations.
"Our C-17A workforce regularly shares a tarmac with American C-17As, whether we are on exercise at home, or deployed across the globe," AVM Roberton said.
The signing of the ARMS-IA follows C-17A maintenance integration activities conducted in 2017 under the Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) program. This activity involved C-17A technicians from both countries gaining a better understanding of the maintenance practices of their counterparts.
"Whilst a USAF C-17A is no different from a RAAF C-17A, our air forces have different maintenance workforce structures, which is what makes an arrangement like this essential. By making it easier to help one another, this arrangement provides flexibility and mission assuredness for USAF and RAAF C-17A missions," AVM Roberton added.
"In the Asia-Pacific, it makes sense for us to capitalise on our existing close relationship, pool resources where possible, and increase our C-17A capability even further."
The C-17A Globemaster III provides the Air Force with an unprecedented capacity for strategic airlift. It allows Australia to rapidly deploy troops, supplies, combat vehicles, heavy equipment and helicopters anywhere in the world.
Based at RAAF Base Amberley, all eight C-17As are operated by No. 36 Squadron and provide a logistics backbone for Australian Defence Force operations overseas. This has included operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as East Timor.
Australia introduced an initial fleet of four C-17As between 2006 and 2008. Additional aircraft were acquired in 2011, 2012 and 2015. C-17As have supported personnel on deployments, and been an integral part of disaster relief and humanitarian missions.
The C-17A Globemaster is a high-wing four-engine heavy transport aircraft. It is fitted with a cargo bay ramp that allows it to airdrop cargo in-flight, and can operate from unsurfaced runways as short as 3,500 feet.
Able to carry up to 77 tonnes of cargo, the C-17A's cargo bay can accommodate loads ranging from:
- an Abrams Tank;
- four Bushmaster vehicles; or
- three Black Hawk helicopters.
AVM Roberton added, "I look forward to similar EAC and ARMS arrangements being conducted for other aircraft common to Australia and the United States."
A similar implementing arrangement between the US and Australia for the C-130J Hercules is underway, with planned integration activities to cover the P-8A Poseidon and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.