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External tanks extend the reach of Operation Christmas Drop

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 19, 2018

The RAAF C-130J is loaded at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam during Operation Christmas Drop 18. (Defence)

A RAAF C-130J Hercules has been able to put its newly-fitted external fuel tanks to good use during its participation in Exercise Christmas Drop, a US Air Force exercise to airdrop Christmas packages to remote Pacific Island communities.

Flying from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, US Air Force, Japanese and RAAF aircraft airdropped 154 loads, which can comprise donated construction materials, fishing nets, rice, soccer balls and school supplies, to communities in the Northern Marianas Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau.

“Some missions are a round-trip of 4,000km or more, the equivalent of flying from Sydney to Townsville and back, to deliver at a drop zone on a thin beach or atoll lagoon,” Flight Lieutenant Nicholas Bourke, RAAF Detachment Commander for Operation Christmas Drop 18, said.

“For this we took advantage of external tanks recently fitted to our Hercules, which provided extended range and greater flexibility when delivering to these remote islands.”

An initial two RAAF C-130Js are being fitted with new external tanks, which have four tonnes of fuel capacity each.

Operation Christmas Drop ran from December 5 to 18, and this year marks the fourth consecutive time that the RAAF has sent a C-130J and crew to participate and work alongside counterparts from the US and Japan.

A bundle load is dropped from the RAAF C-130J towards a lagoon on the island of Oneop as part of Operation Christmas Drop 18. (Defence)


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