Operation Christmas Drop delivers to the Pacific
6 December 2016
The Royal Australian Air Force has returned to Operation Christmas Drop, joining counterparts from the United States and Japan for the world’s longest-running airdrop operation.
Conducted from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam this week, C-130 Hercules transport crews from all three countries will fly thousands of kilometres to airdrop up to 100 loads by parachute to remote island communities in the west Pacific.
The operation will deliver items such as non-perishable food, fishing equipment, educational materials and toys, according to Group Captain Carl Newman, Officer Commanding No. 84 Wing.
“The loads will descend by parachute to shallow waters on the coast of the islands, where they can be safely and easily retrieved by the local community,” Group Captain Newman said.
“In conjunction with crews from the United States and Japan, we will deliver to communities over an area of six million square kilometres, including in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau.”
Hosted by the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1952, Operation Christmas Drop last year saw Australia and Japan participate for the first time, strengthening the bonds between participating nations.
“Australians will work together with American and Japanese counterparts to plan and carry out these missions, further strengthening their collaboration,” Group Captain Newman said.
“Participating in Operation Christmas Drop allows us to carry out our airdrop skillsets in a different environment, understand how our counterparts operate, and benefit the civilian community at the same time.”
The RAAF has operated different models of the Hercules since December 1958, using them to support a range of humanitarian relief missions ranging from the response to Cyclone Tracy in 1974, to the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Sumatra.
More recently, RAAF Hercules airdropped humanitarian supplies to Iraqi civilians in 2014 and provided assistance to Fiji following the devastation of Cyclone Winston in 2016.
“There’s a long tradition of Australian Hercules helping those in need, especially within the civil community,” Group Captain Newman said.
“It’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction for the current generation of Hercules crews to continue this tradition through Operation Christmas Drop.”
Stills imagery of this activity will be available from http://images.defence.gov.au/S20163154.
A video compile will be made available from the Parliamentary Network at the conclusion of this exercise. Interviews are available on request.
Information about the Hercules is available from http://www.airforce.gov.au/hercules/
Defence Media – (02) 6127 1999, media [at] defence.gov.au