The Hon. Jason Clare MP
Minister for Defence Materiel.
Australia is investigating the purchase of an additional C-17A Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft Minister for Defence Stephen Smith said today.
Australia has sent a Letter of Request to the United States regarding the potential purchase of an additional C-17A aircraft through the United States Foreign Military Sales program, formally seeking cost and availability information.
Mr Smith said the Royal Australian Air Force currently had four C-17A Aircraft. They were delivered over the period 2006 to 2008. The first of these became operational in 2007, providing the Australian Defence Force with a global airlift capability.
Recent events in Queensland and Christchurch have underlined the C‑17s as an essential part of Australia’s capacity to respond to natural disasters both within Australia and within our region.
While disaster relief has been a recent public focus for C-17 operations, they continue to support Australian and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East, meeting their primary purpose in providing military long-range heavy airlift.
The C‑17A aircraft can lift very large and heavy cargoes over long distances providing a significant contribution to Australia’s ability to reach and respond to events. One C‑17A can carry up to four C-130 Hercules loads in a single lift and cover twice the distance in three-quarters of the time of a C‑130 Hercules.
Mr Smith said that acquisition of an additional C-17 would almost certainly obviate any need for the acquisition of two additional C-130J-30 aircraft under project AIR 8000 Phase 1.
As outlined in the Public Defence Capability Plan, the additional C-130J acquisition is planned for final decision by Government in the period 2013-14 to FY 2014-15.
Following receipt of cost and availability information from the United States, the Government will make a decision about purchase based on capability, cost and schedule assessments of an additional C-17.