Air Force conducts mid-winter air drop for Australian Antarctic Division
8 June 2016
A Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft from Number 36 Squadron has successfully performed an air drop mission over Antarctica in support of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) building on the summer drop previously conducted in February 2016.
The most recent air drop provides the Royal Australian Air Force with an all-season resupply capability and the ability to provide support to the current expeditioners on the continent. The air drop consisted of pallets containing supplies for vehicles and plant equipment, medical supplies and personal mail.
The C-17A aircraft was pre-positioned at Avalon airfield to allow the crew to confirm suitable weather over Casey drop zone, approximately 70 kilometres from Wilkins Aerodrome. The load was delivered using the A22–High Velocity Container Delivery System.
Officer Commanding Number 86 Wing, Group Captain Adam Williams, said it was a great operation for both organisations.
“The opportunity to support the AAD in this resupply demonstrates the Air Force’s progression to a year round resupply capability to the AAD research stations,” Group Captain Williams said.
“We previously made an air drop via a helibox in February this year, which was successful. Using a different air drop method, such as the high velocity drop, we can increase the loads and perform the airdrop with a higher tolerance for inclement weather.
“This delivery system allows the loads to fall at a higher speed, reducing the time spent in the air and limits the effect of the wind during the descent.”
Globemaster aircraft from Number 36 Squadron completed five trial flights to Antarctica between November 2015 and February 2016. Based out of Hobart airport, each flight travelled around 3450km return to Wilkins Aerodrome.
Over five flights, a total of 109 tonnes of cargo was moved to Antarctica. This included a combination of mechanical equipment (including a 23 tonne tractor), stores and hardware for repairs.
Simulated aero-medical evacuations were also conducted by staff from Number 3 Aero-Medical Evacuation Squadron during the mission.
A sixth flight was conducted to recover three squirrel helicopters and 28 expeditioners after a blizzard damaged the supply ship Aurora Australis.
Imagery of the C-17A Globemaster at Wilkins Aerodrome is available athttp://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/archives/5003-All%20Defence%20Imagery/?25=First%20trial%20flight%20of%20C-17A
Imagery of the latest air drop is available at: http://www.antarctica.gov.au/news/2016/first-midwinter-airdrop-to-australian-antarctic-station