RAAF sends C-130J Hercules to aid Tropical Cyclone Seroja efforts

written by Adam Thorn | April 16, 2021
Sergeant John Braken (left) and Corporal Amber Nichols observe the loading of a C-130J Hercules at RAAF Base Pearce as part of Defence’s support to the WA Government following Tropical Cyclone. (Petty Officer Yuri Ramsey)

The RAAF has relocated a C-130J Hercules from RAAF Base Richmond to RAAF Base Pearce in WA to support communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Seroja.

The aircraft is moving personnel and supplies including food, water and generators, and could move casualties back to civilian hospitals for treatment if needed.

On 13 April, it also transported two vehicles from RAAF Base Perth.

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So far, the cyclone has destroyed or completely damaged 170 residential properties and businesses, while a further 491 have received more moderate damage.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said earlier this week, “We’ve seen our Defence personnel helping time and time again through the bushfires, COVID and now helping cyclone-affected people in the Durack electorate.

“I urge people still in the path of the system to take all necessary precautions.

“Although the cyclone crossed the coast and has been downgraded to a tropical low, the risks of heavy rain, flash flooding and damaging wind gusts are still very real, and people must take the advice of WA emergency services.”

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The C-130J Super Hercules is a medium-sized tactical air-lifter that can carry 128 passengers or eight pallets of cargo. It can work alongside other airlifters, too, such as the C-27J Spartan and C-17A Globemaster III.

In September 1999, it helped evacuate 2,500 people from Dili, as conflict in East Timor raged.

A fleet of 12 are operated from RAAF Base Richmond by No. 37 Squadron, and were delivered between 1999 and 2001, but its lineage goes back far further.

The RAAF received its initial batch of the original incarnation of the Hercules back in December 1958, becoming the first nation to operate the aircraft outside of the US Air Force.

It marked 800,000 flying hours by its fleet with a formation flight of three over Sydney Harbour in 2014.

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