Thanks to a series of collaborative training activities with Air Force, Army’s engineering equipment can now be prepared and loaded for airlift faster than ever before.

The training included airlifting a Rheinmetall MAN M40 truck with a No. 36 Squadron C-17A Globemaster III for the first time.

No. 36 Squadron’s loadmasters at RAAF Base Amberley initiated the training when they asked to utilise 6th Engineer Support Regiment’s (6ESR) engineering equipment.

Captain Chicoutimi Done, from 6ESR, said the training, conducted in the latter part of this year, benefited both units.

“It’s really been training for everyone as it’s allowed us to practise preparing our engineering equipment that’s often used to support the civilian community as part of disaster response efforts,” Captain Done said.

“This preparation involved ensuring our equipment was free from fuel and any chemicals, and explosive ordnance elements were properly prepared.”

The training has led to 6ESR being able to reduce the lead time required to prepare equipment for airlift.

This can be critical during disaster relief missions, such as those conducted during the high-risk weather season when 6ESR’s engineering equipment may need to be airlifted at short notice.

“We’ve been able to streamline our processes so we can now deploy our assets faster than ever before,” Captain Done said. 

“Our equipment comes in all different shapes and sizes, and this training has enabled us to ensure we’re meeting the requirements for our equipment to be airlifted safely,

“We’ve constructed shoring to help support our equipment during airlifts.”

We’ve been able to streamline our processes so we can now deploy our assets faster than ever before.

Shoring is plywood or similar material, which is used to support vehicles and plant equipment in an aircraft to prevent movement during turbulence.

Some of the shoring 6ESR constructed was put to the test when a grader was loaded onto a C-17A Globemaster III during the training, with the shoring placed under the axels and frame of the grader.

Sergeant Kent Schumann, from No. 23 Squadron’s Air Movement Section, said the training was great experience for everyone involved, particularly new personnel posted into the squadron, and it came with challenges.

“In 20 years, I’ve never seen a grader being loaded onto an aircraft,” Sergeant Schumann said.

“We weren’t sure whether the blade on the grader had to be resting down on a piece of wood or raised up during flight.

“We looked at a manual and it said the blade had to be raised up, so now we know for next time.”

Warrant Officer Tom Watson, a loadmaster with No. 36 Squadron’s Training Flight, said the training was invaluable.

“We saw this as an outstanding opportunity for the development of our junior loadmasters by exposing them to cargo that is not commonly carried,” Warrant Officer Watson said.

“We stacked the crews with those relatively new to the loadmaster role in order to expose them to different types of vehicles in a bid to develop their trade knowledge.

“The experience and knowledge gained by those involved was well worth the effort.”