(Stephen Smith Minister for Defence & Jason Clare Minister for Defence Materiel)
Australia is investigating the purchase of an additional C-17A Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft Minister for Defence Stephen Smith said today.
Australia has sent a Letter of Request to the United States regarding the potential purchase of an additional C-17A aircraft through the United States Foreign Military Sales program, formally seeking cost and availability information.
Mr Smith said the Royal Australian Air Force currently had four C-17A Aircraft. They were delivered over the period 2006 to 2008. The first of these became operational in 2007, providing the Australian Defence Force with a global airlift capability.
Recent events in Queensland and Christchurch have underlined the C 17s as an essential part of Australia’s capacity to respond to natural disasters both within Australia and within our region.
While disaster relief has been a recent public focus for C-17 operations, they continue to support Australian and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East, meeting their primary purpose in providing military long-range heavy airlift.
The C 17A aircraft can lift very large and heavy cargoes over long distances providing a significant contribution to Australia’s ability to reach and respond to events. One C 17A can carry up to four C-130 Hercules loads in a single lift and cover twice the distance in three-quarters of the time of a C 130 Hercules.
Mr Smith said that acquisition of an additional C-17 would almost certainly obviate any need for the acquisition of two additional C-130J-30 aircraft under project AIR 8000 Phase 1.
As outlined in the Public Defence Capability Plan, the additional C-130J acquisition is planned for final decision by Government in the period 2013-14 to FY 2014-15.
Following receipt of cost and availability information from the United States, the Government will make a decision about purchase based on capability, cost and schedule assessments of an additional C-17.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
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