No. 36 Squadron’s C-17A Globemaster III has played a key role in the early stages of Exercise Diamond Storm in the Northern Territory by facilitating training integration of Air Mobility Group assets for the Air Warfare Instructor Course (AWIC).
The C-17A recently flew into austere environments including Bradshaw Field Training Area and Nackeroo for exercise tasking, as well as to provide much needed resupply and support to deployed personnel in these remote areas.
The C-17A Detachment Commander, Flight Lieutentant Tim Smith, commented on how this is not a typical role of the C-17A when flying from the aircraft’s home base in Amberley, Queensland.
"It’s a different day in the office to land the massive C-17 at Bradshaw, and we will be doing this a lot throughout the exercise; to deliver necessary logistics, personnel and to achieve exercise objectives," FLTLT Smith said.
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.
"We are landing on dirt strips that Airfield Engineers from No. 65 Squadron have prepared for us. At 3,500 feet in length, it is right on the minimum prescribed for C-17A operations," FLTLT Smith added.
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.
The C-17A can also be converted to a medical rescue aircraft. The C-17A can be refuelled in-flight by the KC-30A, extending its range further.
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FLTLT Smith explained, "We rarely get to land on dirt runways, and as a robust [and] versatile airlifter, the C-17 is capable of doing this without too much effort; and it’s unreal to land such a big aircraft in Top End’s red dirt."
Exercise Diamond Storm is the culmination of three phases of training over six months for high skilled and purposely selected aircrew and operator personnel.