Help Drops From Above


Air Force and Army have combined forces to resupply the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) from the air, delivering about 15 tonnes of essential supplies for the winter.

A RAAF C-17A Globemaster III departed Perth Airport and was refuelled mid-air by a RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport over the Southern Ocean before delivering its much-needed payload to the Mawson Research Station via parachutes on May 22.

Flight Lieutenant Nicholas Power, of 36 Squadron, said these infrequent air-drop tasks to Antarctica were a highlight.

"These missions are really special ones for us. It allows us to test all of our capabilities and bring together airdrop and air-to-air refuelling into one mission set. It's really beneficial to demonstrate our training," Flight Lieutenant Power said.

"The C-17 is a global strategic air-lift platform. We're capable of delivering a variety of stores around the world, and it really opens up with that air-to-air refuelling for extended range operations across the globe."

The AAD requested support from the ADF after it was unable to receive all the required stores for winter via sea.

Before the C-17 departed from Perth for Mawson Research Station, it was loaded at Hobart Airport by the Army's 176 Air Dispatch Squadron.

'We are sending a lot of different stuff, a lot of different items that we've never packed before.'

Corporal Kiara Parks, of 176 Squadron, said the load contained a wide variety of items.

"It is essential that we actually get these stores down to Mawson because this is critical cargo that they actually need for the winter period," Corporal Parks said.

"We're sending everything, mechanical and electrical supplies; we're sending food, we are sending personal cargo that they weren't able to take with them initially to go down.

"We are sending a lot of different stuff, a lot of different items that we've never packed before."

The resupply mission to the AAD was part of Operation Southern Discovery, the ADF's contribution to the whole-of-government, Department of Environment and Energy-led Australian Antarctic Program.

Commander of Operation Southern Discovery Wing Commander Nicholas Fairweather said the resupply mission was a demonstration of the ADF's capability.

"The C-17 will require air-to-air refuelling from an Air Force KC-30 tanker aircraft. [This] will extend the C-17's range and allow it to take a round trip of more than 10,000 kilometres," Wing Commander Fairweather said.

"This mission is showing how the ADF can transport cargo over vast distances in challenging environments."

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