RAAF C‑17 flying around the clock in Japan

The Roy­al Aus­tralian Air Force (RAAF) is work­ing around the clock to help fer­ry per­son­nel and sup­plies from Oki­nawa to the Japan­ese dis­as­ter zone as part of Oper­a­tion Pacif­ic Assist – the ADF com­po­nent of the Aus­tralian Government’s assis­tance to Japan fol­low­ing the earth­quake and tsuna­mi on 11 March.
RAAF air crews from Amberley’s 36 Squadron are work­ing in alter­nate shifts to fly their C‑17 Globe­mas­ter III to Kade­na Air Base in Oki­nawa, pick up mem­bers of the 15th Brigade of the Japan­ese Ground Self Defence Force, their vehi­cles and equip­ment, and fly them to the Japan­ese main­land to assist in dis­as­ter-relief effort.

Com­man­der of the Aus­tralian con­tin­gent Wing Com­man­der David Howard said the mis­sion was very chal­leng­ing, but the C‑17, and the RAAF per­son­nel fly­ing and sup­port­ing it, were up to the task. 

“The mis­sion requires load­ing the C‑17 with what­ev­er the 15th Brigade deems nec­es­sary for the relief effort, such as trucks, trail­ers and per­son­nel,” he said. 

“The C‑17 gives us the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lift quite a large pay­load a long way in a fair­ly short time, so it’s cru­cial in mov­ing those forces around. To help us achieve this, the RAAF has also deployed an eight-per­son Mobile Air Load Team that spe­cialis­es in prepar­ing and arrang­ing loads to fill the C‑17’s cav­ernous interior.” 

Only days ear­li­er the RAAF C‑17 flew through extreme­ly dif­fi­cult fly­ing con­di­tions to Japan’s snow­bound north­ern island of Hokkai­do to fer­ry more than 100,000lbs of drink­ing water back to Mis­awa for dis­tri­b­u­tion by author­i­ties to the relief effort. 

Air­craft load­mas­ter Sergeant Derek Long said that, giv­en the ice and snow on take­off at Hokkai­do, com­bined with a heavy load of human­i­tar­i­an aid, it was one of the best exam­ples of fly­ing he had expe­ri­enced in a C‑17 Globemaster. 

“It’s very ful­fill­ing to rise above chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances and know that the job we are doing is mak­ing a very big dif­fer­ence to the effort here in Japan,” he said. 

The C‑17A Globe­mas­ter and air­crew remain in Japan to assist the Japan­ese author­i­ties with heavy air­lift capa­bil­i­ty as part of the inter­na­tion­al dis­as­ter-relief effort. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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