Forty-four Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel and a C-27J Spartan transport aircraft will participate in Exercise MHANUU 2017 in New Caledonia until 24 November.
Exercise MHANUU, hosted by the New Caledonian Armed Forces (FANC), involves rehearsing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) scenarios.
Defence said, as the south Pacific is prone to natural disasters, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is committed to working closely with its regional partners to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance as required.
The Spartan, from No. 35 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond, has joined the FANC air base near Noumea and will operate in co-ordination with French aircraft during the exercise.
Commanding Officer No. 35 Squadron Wing Commander Jarrod Pendlebury said MHANUU serves as a valuable training experience for Air Force.
"We carry a tremendous amount of experience with HADR operations, and it’s important to apply that knowledge to the Spartan workforce," WGCDR Pendlebury said.
"This includes flying missions to airdrop aid and personnel, evacuate people from remote airstrips and conduct aero-medical evacuations.
"Bringing the Spartan to MHANUU ensures that we can build techniques with regional partners from France and New Zealand, and be ready to respond if called."
The Spartan, which entered RAAF service in mid-2015, carries a payload of five tonnes, or 34 passengers.
The Spartan’s relatively small size allows it to access airstrips too narrow or soft for larger airlifters, which significantly enhances the RAAF’s HADR capabilities across the Pacific.
"The Air Force has a wide range of air mobility platforms that can deliver relief supplies and specialist personnel around the globe, but it’s the Spartan’s job to deliver over that last tactical mile," said WGCDR Pendlebury.
"MHANUU allows partner nations to better understand what RAAF can do, as well as providing No. 35 Squadron the opportunity to work in an unfamiliar environment."
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