The RAAF has sent a C-17 Globemaster III loaded with search-and-rescue teams and supplies to Türkiye in the aftermath of its earthquakes.
The natural disaster, which peaked at 7.8 on the Richter scale, has already claimed the lives of more than 9,500 people in Türkiye and 3,574 in Syria as of 13 February.
AUS 2 DART team leader, Chief Superintendent Darryl Dunbar, said the scale of the disaster was unheralded.
“Our team are trained to deal with what we’ll face in Türkiye,” Chief Superintendent Dunbar said. “We’re unsure what we will find at first but will do our best to support the people of Türkiye in their hour of need.”
The C-17A Globemaster is a high-wing four-engine heavy transport aircraft, fitted with a cargo bay ramp that allows it to airdrop in-flight. It can also operate from unsurfaced runways as short as 3,500 feet and carry up to 77 tonnes.
Australia currently has eight, all operated by No. 36 Squadron and based at RAAF Base Amberley. The last was delivered in 2015.
Chief Superintendent Dunbar said the team will assist local authorities in finding residents still trapped beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings.
“It’s all about the casualties on the scene, and that will be our focus. The environment will present problems. It’s cold, and buildings are in a dangerous state. We will find solutions to any challenges we face. That’s what we train for, and our team are prepared.”
AUS 2 team members are based in NSW and include medical, engineering and search-and-rescue specialists. They will take rescue supplies for the operation, and not draw on limited resources in Türkiye.
Australian Aviation reported in January how RAAF released dramatic photos showing one of its C-17A Globemaster airdropping construction equipment weighing more than 10,000 kilograms to Bunger Hills in Antarctica.
The mission was in support of the Australian Antarctic Program. The initiative sees the Australian government work with more than 150 research institutions globally to study the region, using science to unlock the secrets of the past as well as to predict future climate changes.
Operation Southern Discovery is the Air Force’s contribution and takes place every year between November to March.
In particular, the Globemaster is used for dropping heavy scientific equipment while ADF personnel also supply emergency medical help.
Defence said the latest drop required support from 14 air dispatchers and four parachute riggers from Australian Army’s 176 Air Dispatch and Air Force’s No. 36 Squadron.