The Royal Australian Air Force has given festive cheer to west Pacific island communities, helping deliver aid to 54 drop zones.
Operation Christmas Drop, based out of Guam between 7 and 15 December, saw 120 bundle loads delivered to the 54 drop zones by five Hercules transport aircraft from the US Pacific Air Forces, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the RAAF.
Each load was filled with more than 180 kilograms of items including rice, fishing wire and hooks, clothing, children’s books and toys, crayons and hand-powered torches.
Conducted by the US since 1952, Operation Christmas Drop is the world’s longest-running humanitarian airdrop activity, with Australia and Japan participating in the last three years.
RAAF Detachment Commander for Operation Christmas Drop 2017, Squadron Leader Scott Harris, said the Australian contingent delivered 34 bundle loads to 15 different islands this year.
"We frequently conduct humanitarian aid missions in the Pacific, so coming together for Operation Christmas Drop ensures we’re able to work together effectively during future operations," SQNLDR Harris said.
"The United States, Japan and Australia each have similar practices when it comes to airdrop, but coming together in Guam allows us to share tactics, techniques and procedures with each other.
"Operation Christmas Drop helps remote communities in the Pacific, and allows us to maintain the strong bonds with Japan and United States."
Missions during Operation Christmas Drop can take up to nine hours, with deliveries made to communities across 6 million square kilometres of the west Pacific, including the Northern Marianas Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau.