Aerospace composites manufacturer Quickstep has taken a tour of RAAF Base Richmond to see the C-130J Hercules in action, as the air force looks to encourage further Australian supplier engagement.
Since 2012, Quickstep has manufactured and supplied over 200 wing flaps for the RAAF’s C-130J Hercules fleet, on behalf of Lockheed Martin, and on 2 June, was welcomed to RAAF Base Richmond in order to understand how the fleet is operated and sustained in service.
Included in the excursion was a tour around a parked No. 37 Squadron C-130J Hercules aircraft, as well as a through the Airbus Australia Pacific hangar, where deeper-level maintenance is performed on the aircraft.
Officer Commanding Air Lift Systems Program Office Group Captain James Badgery said the tour was a significant, and rare opportunity, and recognised a need to encourage further RAAF engagement with Australian manufacturers.
“There’s a history of Australia’s aviation industry building components for RAAF aircraft, but that’s not traditionally been the case for our transport fleet,” GPCAPT Badgery said.
“By allowing our domestic aviation industry to see how we operate the aircraft, we’re encouraging them to pursue opportunities to provide greater Australian-manufactured content.
“Taking the C-130J as an example, manufacturing a key component like a wing flap means you’re not only supporting the RAAF fleet, but many international operators as well.”
The C-130J Hercules’ wing flaps are deployed when airdropping cargo and paratroops to a drop zone, according to RAAF, providing the pilot with safe control to fly at slower speeds.
The aircraft’s flaps are made up of four light, but strong, parts, with an aluminum structure and skins of carbon fibre composite, providing endurance and longevity, RAAF said.
Meanwhile, Quickstep communications adviser Victoria Bowen said the tour of RAAF Base Richmond was also the first of its kind for the company.
“We are primarily a composite manufacturer with the majority of our approximately 280-strong workforce located at our Bankstown Airport location,” she said.
“The group that visited Richmond were all from our Bankstown facility and ranged from operators on our C-130 as well as our F-35 and F/A-18 programs; engineers, management and various support functions.
“It was a great opportunity for our employees to see how our quality impacts your safety.”
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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