Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that Australia will purchase a sixth C-17A Globemaster III heavy-lift aircraft.
The aircraft will be purchased through the United States Foreign Military Sales program, at a total acquisition cost of around $280 million.
The purchase of the sixth C-17A will double the number of C-17A aircraft available for operations at any one time from two to four.
It is expected to arrive in Australia early next year.
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.
The additional C-17A will greatly increase Australia’s capacity to respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian aid.
This has been made even more apparent through the Australian Defence Force response to the 2011 Victorian Floods, Cyclone Yasi and the Queensland floods, as well as the earthquake in Christchurch and the tsunami in Japan.
The existing C-17 fleet has performed key roles in responding to these disasters, including the transport of:
· First sandbags, then levees, then Navy personnel and equipment for flood relief in Victoria;
· Patients from Cairns area hospitals prior to Cyclone Yasi and to deliver groceries after the cyclone;
· Army Resupply Vehicles capable of carrying people and cargo to support Queensland flood relief;
· Civilian urban search and rescue personnel, paramedics and equipment to provide assistance in the aftermath of the earthquake in Christchurch
Last year C-17 aircraft flew more than 1.2 million nautical miles (2,222,400 km) on approximately 141 missions, including:
· delivering more than 755 tonnes of supplies and equipment to Australian troops in Afghanistan;
· delivering more than 500 tonnes of cargo to Japan following the tsunami in 2011;
· delivering 320 tonnes of cargo, including more than 200 tonnes of food supplies to Queensland after the floods and cyclone.
A sixth C-17 will give the Government increased options to support a wider range of contingencies that might require heavy-lift aircraft and will extend the life of the C-17 fleet by reducing the use of each aircraft.
The acquisition of the fifth C-17A was announced by the Government in March 2011 at a cost of around $260 million. It arrived in Australia in September 2011.
Media note: Imagery available at http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003&search=11122433
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Mr Clare’s Office: Korena Flanagan (02) 6277 7620 or 0418 251 316
Department: (02) 6127 1999