Operation Christmas Drop commences

Operation Christmas Drop commences

A Loadmaster from No. 37 Squadron watches as a load descends under a parachute to an island during Operation Christmas Drop 16. Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

The Royal Australian Air Force has a deployed a C-130J Hercules and crew to Guam for Operation Christmas Drop 2017.

Running from 7-15 December, the operation is the world's longest running humanitarian airdrop exercise, providing aid to remote communities across the west Pacific each year.

Commander Air Mobility Group, Air Commodore Richard Lennon, said the Hercules transport aircraft would airdrop donated items, including construction materials, fishing nets, rice, soccer balls, and school supplies.

"Operation Christmas Drop provides support to more than 20,000 people in remote communities spread over 6 million square kilometres across the west Pacific, including the Northern Marianas Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau," AIRCDRE Lennon said.

"The crews participating in the drop have to plan and execute missions under challenging circumstances and deliver to unfamiliar drop zones.

"Each container we deliver can weigh up to 200 kilograms, and must be delivered with precision so that it can be safely recovered by these communities."

AIRCDRE Lennon said the airdrop is the best way to delivery supplies that are needed urgently.

"Many of these communities have little physical contact with the outside world, and airdrop is an excellent means of delivering supplies when there’s no other quick alternative, either due to the distances involved or lack of available infrastructure," he said.

The US Air Force first conducted Operation Christmas Drop in 1952, making an impromptu delivery of items carried on board a WB-29 weather reconnaissance aircraft to the atoll of Kapingamarangi.
 
This year marks the third consecutive occasion that the Australian Defence Force has sent a C-130J Hercules and crew to participate, working alongside counterparts from the US and Japan.

Operation Christmas Drop commences
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