The air mobility fleet will now be used in a broader suite of mission types both domestically and internationally.
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Defence has confirmed it has redefined the role of the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of 10 C-27J Spartan aircraft to include support for humanitarian disaster relief, crisis response and regional engagements.
This will include operations across the Indo-Pacific through the Pacific Step-Up program, and the ADF’s military logistics and air mobility capability.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, AO, DSC, said the Spartan’s capabilities would continue to support Defence’s broader strategic objectives to shape Australia’s strategic environment, deter threats, and respond with credible military force when required.
According to AIRMSHL Hupfeld, this was evident during recent deployments in response to the national bushfire crisis, with the platform evacuating 2,400 community members and resupplying remote communities inaccessible by larger aircraft with 300,000 kilograms of cargo.
“The Spartan conducted these missions at a range that exceeded the ability of Defence helicopters because of its flexibility and the inherent operational characteristics of a light tactical fixed wing aircraft,” he added.
Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, AM, CSC, also noted the aircraft’s contribution to multinational interoperability exercises and support for regional COVID-19 relief operations.
“The use of the Spartan on exercises such as Arnhem Thunder and Talisman Sabre to deliver vital stores to expeditionary airbases, showcases its ability to reach remote and austere airbases,” AVM Roberts said.
“And it has also recently transported medical supplies and equipment to Port Moresby to assist PNG in the fight against COVID-19; as well as contributed to Australia’s support to regional maritime security and fisheries protection on the high seas through deployments on Operations Resolute and Solania.”
The first C-27J Spartan was delivered to the RAAF in 2015, with the $1.6 billion program achieving initial operational capability in December 2016.
The Leonardo-built fleet, operated by No. 35 Squadron out of RAAF Base Amberley, replaced the Vietnam-era Caribou transport aircraft, which retired in 2009.
The 10 C-27J Spartans are equipped with missile warning systems, electronic self-protection, and battlefield armour.