A RAAF C-17A Globemaster has been sent from Perth to the subcontinent to deliver medical supplies and PPE to help the COVID recovery efforts in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, writes Charbel Kadib.
This is the latest of a number of deliveries to the area, with 19 of India’s 36 states and union territories already receiving Australian medical supplies from previous missions, including 3,000 ventilators and 250 oxygen concentrators.
The deliveries form part of the Commonwealth government’s $37.1 million package of support for India, supported by the Indian government, the Indian Red Cross Society and local authorities.
The C-17A Globemaster’s cargo included an eight-tonne oxygen tank, purchased by Indian firm Tata Steel, which is used to store and transport medical oxygen in bulk.
This is in addition to the Indian Air Force’s airlift of other oxygen tanks from Australia on 5 May.
PPE, donated by the Western Australian government and delivered to Nepal and Sri Lanka, was also carried by the aircraft, supporting the $7 million in Commonwealth funding for emergency relief to Nepal.
Canberra has also committed $5.5 million for emergency relief in Sri Lanka as it grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Sri Lanka allowed Mattala Airport to be used as the hub for the delivery and distribution of the supplies to neighbouring countries.
“Just as India provided vaccines to the Pacific – including through COVAX – Australia is supporting India and its neighbours,” Minister for Defence Peter Dutton, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja, noted in a joint statement.
“Australia continues to work in partnership with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific to support our shared regional recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect lives and livelihoods.”
It comes after a C-17A Globemaster delivered five emergency service vehicles to WA to support communities affected by tropical cyclone Seroja.
The aircraft, operated by No. 36 Squadron, flew the cargo from Melbourne to Geraldton on 19 April.
The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III is a four-engine heavy transport aircraft that can accommodate huge payloads and land on runways just one-kilometre long.
That flexibility comes from its design, which mixes both high-lift wings and controls requiring just three onboard (pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster).
Cargo is loaded onto the C-17 through a ramp system at the back, while its floor has rollers that flip from flat to handle wheeled vehicles or pallets. RAAF owns eight, all operated by No. 36 Squadron and based at RAAF Base Amberley.