For the first time, an Army M1A1 Abrams tank has been flown on board a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17A Globemaster III transport.
On May 11th, the C-17A carried the Abrams from RAAF Base Darwin to the Capricornia region as part of Exercise Hamel, where it will participate with other Defence units in the Shoalwater Bay Field Training Area.
Air Commodore Gary Martin, Commander Air Lift Group, said the Abrams is one of the heaviest single loads which can be carried on board the C-17A.
“At 61 tonnes, the Abrams comes close to the total payload capacity of 70 tonnes for the C-17A,” Air Commodore Martin said.
“Loading an Abrams on board a C-17A is a careful task requiring a steady hand and close cooperation between the driver and loadmaster, to ensure no damage to vehicle or aircraft.”
The Abrams is carefully driven up the cargo ramp of the C-17A and restrained to the cargo floor in a precise position, allowing the aircraft to remain balanced in flight.
The flight of the Abrams provides vital experience for Army and Air Force personnel, and emphasises a key strategic capability for Defence.
“Australia is possessed with a great geographic expanse, requiring a responsive strategic airlift capability to quickly deliver Defence Force personnel and cargo,” Air Commodore Martin said.
Commander of the Darwin based 1st Brigade, Brigadier Gus McLachlan, AM, says the airlift demonstrates the high level of interoperability now available between the branches of the Defence Force.
“The airlift of the M1A1 Abrams by Air Force C-17A is an important milestone,” Brigadier McLachlan said.
“It demonstrates the great capability now afforded to the Australian Defence Force and shows the Australian public that we have the ability to deliver our forces if needed, with relative ease to any place we need them to be.”
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,