Exercise Combined Strength takes Hercules to Norway
23 March 2011
A contingent of 15 Air Force personnel have journeyed to the Arctic Circle for an international exercise focused on the C-130J Hercules transport aircraft.
Exercise Combined Strength 2011 is being conducted at Bodø Air Force Base in Norway from 19-25 March.
The exercise is open to countries that operate C-130J aircraft, and will this year feature participants from Denmark, Australia and the host nation Norway.
Air Commodore Gary Martin, Commander Air Lift Group, said the Hercules supports Australian Defence Force tasks across the globe.
“In 2010, our C-130s flew from Australia to as far as continental United States, Sweden, throughout South East Asia, and the Pacific,” Air Commodore Martin said.
“At the same time, we remain committed to operations in the Middle East, where our C-130J crews face conditions that run from below freezing in Afghanistan to above 50 degrees Celsius in United Arab Emirates.”
As evidenced with Australian C-17A Globemasters currently operating in Japan in support of Operation Pacific Assist, the operating environment for Air Force’s Air Lift Group varies significantly.
“The diversity in our operating environment makes participating in Exercise Combined Strength 11 all the more important,” Air Commodore Martin said.
The Australian contingent will meet with fellow C-130J operators at Bodø, where nations will present the latest methods and practices for operating the Hercules.
“The Australian contingent will be there to deliver presentations on our training structure, which includes how we develop and prepare our aircrew and maintenance professionals.
“They’ll also participate in flying exercises that include search and rescue practice, day and night-time operations, airdrop missions and cold weather survival.”
Australia’s No. 37 Squadron operates 12 C-130J Hercules at RAAF Base Richmond, alongside a fleet of seven older C-130Hs.
The C-130J is the latest generation of the Hercules design and has been in Australian service since 1999 and is continuing to be developed in service.
Today’s C-130J is similar in external appearance to the C-130Hs, but has more powerful engines, modern avionics and navigation systems.
Future developments include Defence programs to upgrade the C-130J with new hardware and software under a block-upgrade program, and installation of additional electronic warfare self-protection equipment.