The Australian federal government is strengthening defence ties with Papua New Guinea after the delivery of two PAC 750 light transport aircraft to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF).
The new aircraft, which have the ability to take off and land from short and varied airfields, were handed over to the PNGDF at Port Moresby on 2 November.
The aircraft is designed to increase the PNGDF’s sovereign aviation capabilities and ability to support communities and civil authorities across the country.
The latest additions add to the PNGDF’s first PAC 750 remediated by the Australian Defence Force in 2021.
The transfer was attended by Australian Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite and Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso.
“Australia is pleased to be able to partner with the PNGDF to strengthen their aviation capability and to respond to the needs of the government and people of Papua New Guinea,” Minister Thistlethwaite said.
“The two aircraft will create new opportunities for our forces to work together, building on our longstanding defence partnership.”
The new aircraft will enhance existing defence aviation cooperation activities already underway, including the recently announced Defence Pacific Air Program, according to Minister Thistlethwaite.
Australia, through the Royal Australian Air Force, the Defence Cooperation Program and the Flights of Excellence Program, will continue to work closely with the PNGDF on aviation safety, maintenance and sustainment throughout the operational life of the aircraft.
The PNGDF has qualified four pilots on the aircraft, and PNGDF loadmasters and maintenance personnel have been integrated into PAC 750 activities.
Australia and Papua New Guinea have also continued to partner in support of Papua New Guinea’s security infrastructure priorities, with construction works underway to refurbish the PNGDF’s Air Transport Wing at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby.
Earlier this year, Papua New Guinea signed a new US-Papua New Guinea Bilateral Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States to deepen the country’s role as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region.
PNG Prime Minister James Marape and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed the agreement during a meeting of Pacific Island leaders in Port Moresby on 22 May.
Under the agreement, the two countries can enhance security cooperation, improve the capacity of the PNG Defence Force, and increase stability and security in the region.
The US will supply $12.4 million in equipment to the PNG Defence Force, including $5.4 million worth of personal protective equipment such as ballistic helmets, flak vests with armour plates, elbow pads, knee pads, and eye protection from the US Department of Defense.