Minister for Defence and Minister for the Environment - Joint media release - Air Force proves its capability in Antarctica again

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Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Defence

Media contact
  • Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
  • Defence Media (02) 6127 1999

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

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14 March 2016

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has again proven its capability to land on ice flying into Antarctica yesterday to provide assistance to the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).

Successfully landing in colder conditions than previous flights, the C-17A Globemaster III touched down at Wilkins Aerodrome for the sixth time since November 2015.

Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the C-17A had been used to return 28 expeditioners and three Squirrel Helicopters to Hobart.

“The RAAF was able to assist AAD with this mission due to the unavailability of the icebreaker Aurora Australis after the vessel was damaged during a blizzard at Mawson in late February,” Minister Payne said.

“Operations such as this continually prove the capability of the C-17A in challenging conditions, enhancing the crews experience and Australia’s logistical and scientific capabilities in Antarctica.”

Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt said the first group of expeditioners left in Antarctica following the grounding of the Aurora Australis arrived in Hobart this morning.

“I would like to pass on my since thanks to the RAAF and 36 Squadron for their assistance transporting expeditioners home on the C-17A,” Minister Hunt said.

“The rest of the expeditioners will remain at Casey station and be flown to Hobart when a suitable weather window allows.”

During its nine years of service with Air Force, the C-17A has made a tremendous impact on operations at home and abroad, including overseas operations and disaster relief, most recently Fiji Assist.

“The purchase of an additional two C-17A aircraft provide vital heavy airlift support to a range of regional and global coalition operations and greatly increase Australia’s capacity for major disaster relief and humanitarian assistance,” Minister Payne said.

Between November 2015 and February 2016, RAAF has completed a series of five proof of concept in support of the AAD, delivering heavy lift cargo in support of the Australian Antarctic programme.

Media contacts:

Henry Budd (Minister Payne) 0429 531 143

Ben O’Doherty (Minister Hunt) 0402 047 852

Defence Media (02) 6127 1999

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