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C-27J Spartan to be based at Amberley

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 29, 2014

The first RAAF C-27J has flown.
The first RAAF C-27J.

RAAF Base Amberley is set to become the operating base for 35SQN and the future fleet of 10 Alenia C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifters that are expected to arrive in Australia in 2015, Air Force News has reported.

The first aircraft are anticipated to initially be based at RAAF Base Richmond when they begin arriving early next year, with the re-established squadron using existing facilities. But subject to the necessary approvals, new supporting infrastructure will be constructed at Amberley to establish a permanent home for 35SQN.

“In light of contemporary circumstances, including Army’s Plan BEERSHEBA, Amberley is the most flexible and efficient basing option to support the full range of C-27J customers,” GPCAPT Steve Young, director of the C-27J Transition Team, was quoted as saying.

“Having the main operating base at Amberley will also improve responsiveness for major deployments through co-location with the C-17 capability.”

The C-130J Hercules transport aircraft is expected to remain at Richmond.

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Comments (14)

  • Peter K.


    All the Eggs in one basket?

    Centralization is good for training/maintenance/deployment etc but if Amberley was put out of action we could lose
    most of our Battlefield/tactical/strategic uplift capacity not to speak of our Super Hornet Strike/EW capacity. I presume this has been thought about?

  • Michael


    It will be interesting to see if the RAAF will have a permanent detachment at other locations à la the E-7 detachment to Tindal. Richmond and/or Townsville comes to mind…

  • mike9


    Logic has never been a strong point with the military , the largest Army base in Australia is in Townsville , but the Hercs’ are based in Sydney . The Shoal water bay training ground is also on the way to Townsville , I can understand Amberley as it is close to the major service centres , but Richmond seems to be based on politics , not strategic planning .

  • William


    Maybe the death knell has sounded for Richmond again. Again.

  • Peter


    Seems that Amberley is going to become very full with this decision. With 12 E/A-18G Growlers, possibly 2 more C-17s and 2-3 more KC-30As on the way and only 1 main runway, as the locals aren’t real happy with prolonged use of the shorter cross runway, and where are the covered parking spots for the above PLUS 10 Spartans ? Meantime, Richmond continues to not attract new investment.
    There’s plenty of Air Lift already established at Amberley to support the army, so if the ADF doesn’t want to invest funds for Richmond, then Townsville ( which previously had a permanent Caribou flight established there to support Army ), or Darwin ( again, close to Army ) may prove better options without crowding out Amberley.

  • Mark


    Agreed William. Perhaps this is a further step towards freeing up Richmond for other use.

  • australianaviation.com.au



    The main AusAid warehouse is also located at Moorebank in Sydney, hence the co-location of AMG assets. the C-17s would have probably been based at RIC if the base had been able to support them.


  • BH


    @ Peter..
    Yes, Amberley is going to be a very busy base especially if the Govt comes good on the extra KC30s and C17s. They’re going to need a lot of new hardstand space.

  • Steve


    Is Townsville too vulnerable to cyclones? I know Chinooks and MRH-90s are there but the C-27J can transit there at 330Kt when required whereas CH-47s and MRH-90s only do 150Kt cruise.

  • Micky


    All of northern Australia gets the occasional cyclone, but they are few are between. atleast every few years, the bad ones even less so. But Townsville was the base for the Caribou fo years and years and was never a problem. in fact if anything, having them based in Townsville was beneficial for natural disaster response both in Australia and the pacific, including PNG.
    I would love to see the Caribou replacement C25J’s based in Townsville as well. Be fitting to have them there where the retired Caribou still sits out the front of RAAF Base Townsville, but alas doesnt look like that is going to be the case.

  • Darren


    It might seem someone knows something about Richmond that isn’t public. Basing out of Townsville makes sense to me (if not Richmond), but maybe Defence knows something about that I don’t. As for Amberley it would seem to be standing room only. Local contractors for Concrete and Hangars must be happy, but just how much space is there to build more? What of the noise for the locals with such a large base and lots and lots of flying? For that matter is the airspace going to be able to handle the volume of training (and I don’t mean just circuit training)? And finally one of the synergies with the C-27J is the C-130J engines, so co-location seems logical. Lots of questions so hopfully we hear of some answers with the thinking behind the decision.

  • Paul


    Whilst the Commonwealth has undertaken a signifcant modernisation of Amberley and aquired much of the surrounding land, closed the State School, removed the Married Quarters, put the front gate in line with the Cunnignham Highway and closed the civilian road that went through the base to Rosewood – much of this has to do with the noise footprint of the F-35 and not annoying the civilian population in the encrouching suburbs around the base.

    Sure it is in the national interest to acquire more land for the RAAF and modernise this strategic base – yet the C-17 and KC-30 sit exposed to the elements on the hard stand. They have a single hanger that accomodates only one aircraft at a time for maintaince work to be carried out, the rest of the time these aircraft are exposed on the hard stand when not in use and with potentially additional C-17 and KC-30s on the way this will mean more out in the open.

    Hail storms and good size hail stones up to that of cricket ball are not that uncommon in this area and certainly in my many years at RAAF Amberley I saw this on several occassions. The Ultra Violent in this region is fierce at the best of times and has a harsh impact on any surface.

    The construction of new barracks for elements of the Army that are most likely to deploy early via C-17 on the base was a sensible thing. For example 21 Construction (Rooster) formerly based at Puckapunyal in Victoria are now based at Amberley.

    I would suggest that RAAF Amberley is going to become very crowded and very busy! I am not avocating hardend bomb proof shelters rather protection against adverse and normal weather elements for the C-17, KC-30 and potentially the C-27J Fleets. One would think that given that no RAAF C-130Js are based at Amberley there is little justification for having the C-27J aircraft located there when it comes to support (technical/mechanical) at Amberely over Townsville. The large Army presence in Townsville was a good enough reason for the Caribou presence until their withdrawal and retirement from service – funny that it is not now for their successor the C-27J!

  • stuart


    given the commonality in the C130 & C27 it seems odd to bace the spartans in QLD …. would seem this will be the 1st step in relieving the RAAF of RICHMOND Airbase & its transition to civilian service as sydney’s 2nd airport …. having said, is really a good idea to stick so much of the RAAF’s assets in one spot??

  • Raymond


    “Having the main operating base at Amberley will also improve responsiveness for major deployments through co-location with the C-17 capability.”

    I would have thought that co-location with the C-130J capability would override any benefits from co-location with the C-17 capability, as well as the fact Amberley is going to be very busy with extra C-17’s, KC-30’s and Growlers on the way. This decision demands a little more explanation, otherwise it just doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense.

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