RAAF has confirmed it has redefined the role of its fleet of 10 C-27J Spartans to include support for humanitarian disaster relief, crisis response and regional engagements.
This will include operations across the Indo-Pacific through the Pacific Step-Up program, and the ADF’s military logistics and air mobility capability.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, AO, DSC, said the Spartan’s capabilities would continue to support Defence’s broader strategic objectives to shape Australia’s strategic environment, deter threats, and respond with credible military force when required.
According to AIRMSHL Hupfeld, this was evident during recent deployments in response to the national bushfire crisis, with the platform evacuating 2,400 community members and resupplying remote communities inaccessible by larger aircraft with 300,000 kilograms of cargo.
“The Spartan conducted these missions at a range that exceeded the ability of Defence helicopters because of its flexibility and the inherent operational characteristics of a light tactical fixed wing aircraft,” he added.
Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, AM, CSC, also noted the aircraft’s contribution to multinational interoperability exercises and support for regional COVID-19 relief operations.
“The use of the Spartan on exercises such as Arnhem Thunder and Talisman Sabre to deliver vital stores to expeditionary airbases, showcases its ability to reach remote and austere airbases,” AVM Roberts said.
“And it has also recently transported medical supplies and equipment to Port Moresby to assist PNG in the fight against COVID-19; as well as contributed to Australia’s support to regional maritime security and fisheries protection on the high seas through deployments on Operations Resolute and Solania.”
Australia received its first of 10 C-27J Spartans in 2015, which were tasked with replacing RAAF’s Caribous. Operated by No. 35 Squadron from RAAF Base Amberley, the 30,500kg air mobility aircraft is designed to nestle into the sweet spot between the country’s smaller CH-47F Chinooks and larger C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster IIIs.
It’s significant advantage, though, like the Caribou, is its ability to land on smaller runways with lower pavement classification numbers. It means it can access up to 1,900 airfields in Australia compared to around 500 for the C-130J.
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