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Watch: RAAF Hercules joins volcano response effort in Tonga

written by Hannah Dowling | January 19, 2022

A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft departs RAAF Base Richmond to assist the Tongan government after the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano (Defence / CPL Kylie Gibson)

A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft has been deployed to assist in Australia’s response efforts following the eruption of Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano.

The C-130J Hercules took off from RAAF Base Richmond on Tuesday, 18 January, and will be used to conduct an “assessment of damage to critical infrastructure”.

Watch below to see the RAAF preparing the Hercules, before its taxi and take-off for Tonga.

It comes after the Australian Defence Force sent a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon Aircraft to Tonga earlier this week, following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano on 15 January.

The Poseidon was similarly sent to conduct an assessment of damage to critical infrastructure, such as roads, ports and power lines, throughout the Polynesian country to help determine the next step in the response effort.

The ADF said both deployments form part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s coordinated mission to support the government of Tonga, following the eruption.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the Royal Australian Air Force was currently “undertaking surveillance activity over the affected area”.


It appears the Poseidon could have been joined by a C-17 Globemaster, after both were spotted taking off from RAAF Base Amberley, headed for Tonga, early on Monday.

Earlier rescue plans appear to have been stunted due to excessive cloud coverage over the Pacific Islands, which also impacted a number of commercial services between Australia and Fiji.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Defence Force has also confirmed that an Orion aircraft left Auckland on Monday morning to assist with an initial impact assessment of the area and low-lying islands.

Comments (2)

  • GeorgeB


    What is the hump on top of the fuselages of the Herbs? Have they had some type of comms upgrade?

    • Raymond


      This aircraft has a number of modifications, and is fitted with a dorsal-mounted radome which accommodates the Honeywell Ka-Band Satellite Communications (SATCOM) system, providing high-speed, broad-bandwidth satellite data transmission and receipt capability, allowing the aircraft to upload and download high-resolution data feeds while in flight anywhere across the globe.

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