A pair of C-17A Globemaster IIIs conducted simulated airdrops in the valleys of Papua New Guinea – after taking off from RAAF Base Scherger in far northern Queensland.
The six-hour mission took place during Exercise Global Dexterity 22-2 and included one Australian and one US C-17A.
Flight Lieutenant Matthew Huber, a C-17A pilot with the RAAF’s 36 Squadron, said it was the first time RAAF and PACAF C-17A crews had conducted this training in Papua New Guinea.
“Papua New Guinea provided a unique environment for flying training, with high terrain and challenging environmental conditions unlike anywhere in the immediate Indo-Pacific region,” Flight Lieutenant Huber said.
“The C-17A is an extremely versatile and manoeuvrable aircraft for its size, and conducting this training in Papua New Guinea provided the crews from both countries a unique experience.”
Major Joshua Moore, PACAF 15th Wing Director of Agile Combat Employment, said it was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”.
“It was awesome to be able to fly in that beautiful and rugged terrain and to do so operating seamlessly in an integrated crew,” Major Moore said
The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III is a four-engine heavy transport aircraft that can accommodate huge payloads and land on runways just 1 kilometre long.
RAAF owns eight, all operated by No. 36 Squadron and based at Amberley. The first arrived in 2006 and the last in 2015, complementing its CH-47F Chinooks and C-130J Hercules. No 36 Squadron, meanwhile, celebrated its 80th on 11 March 2022.
The squadron was established as the 22nd Transport Squadron at Essendon Airport in Melbourne on 3 April 1942, coinciding with the establishment of several RAAF transport squadrons earlier the same year.
Commanding Officer 36 Squadron Wing Commander Dean Bolton said the Global Dexterity’s missions included air-to-air refuelling, tactical formation flying, low-level navigation, personnel airdrop and aerial cargo delivery.
“The opportunity to integrate with [US squadron] the 535th AS strengthens our relationship, validates our unilateral training and ultimately sharpens our collective readiness to operate effectively alongside PACAF,” Wing Commander Dean Bolton said.
“The United States and Australia both use the C-17A to deliver critical supplies throughout the Indo-Pacific, often at short notice.
“This includes supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, where a C-17A can land with relief cargo or large vehicles essential for recovery efforts; or airdrop cargo and supplies to a drop zone if no runway is available.”
Exercise Global Dexterity is held twice a year, with hosting alternating between the PACAF’s 535th Airlift Squadron in Hawaii, and RAAF’s 36 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley near Brisbane.
This year’s iteration took place between 14 and 18 November and included low-level missions across NSW and Queensland.