Defence Minister David Johnston has been able to witness first hand the sorts of specialist low level flying skills the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) crack 37 Squadron employ on humanitarian air drop missions over northern Iraq.
On Friday, Senator Johnston flew on board a C130J which conducted a practice air drop and a tactical low level flying display before landing the awe-struck Defence Minister back in Canberra.
Earlier, accompanied by the Federal Member for Macquarie, Louise Markus, Senator Johnston was briefed on the squadron’s involvement in delivering humanitarian aid to members of the Yazidi minority stranded on Mt Sinjar, after fleeing violence by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) militants.
The Defence Minister spoke briefly to squadron officers, air crew and ground staff thanking them for their valuable contribution to the continuing international mission in Iraq.
“On behalf of the Government I want to express my deep thanks and appreciation for your work,” said Senator Johnston, noting the “complex nature” of the night time air drop on August 13 by a 37 Squadron C130J Hercules transport.
The load included 10 air-dropped bundles of vital supplies including bottled water and high-energy biscuits.
Mrs Markus said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Minister for Defence, the Honourable David Johnston, to Richmond RAAF Base, and again meet with the dedicated Australian servicemen and women assisting the in the urgent international humanitarian effort to the Middle East.”
“I commend the work our Air Force personnel do for our nation. It is a privilege to have the hub of logistics support for the Australian Defence Force within the electorate of Macquarie.
On Monday the Defence Minister departed for the UK to attend a key NATO leaders meeting in the Welsh city of Newport.
Wales will host the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain as the UK hosts the NATO summit with leaders and senior ministers arriving from more than 60 countries.
Imagery is available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20142567
Minister Johnston’s office:
Mark Dodd 0477 389 560 and Rebecca Horton 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999