The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) plans to purchase an additional C-17A Globemaster III heavy-lift transport aircraft from the US, Minister for Defence Stephen Smith has said.

Australia has already issued a letter of request to the US regarding the potential purchase through the US foreign military sales programme.

The present RAAF C-17A fleet comprises four aircraft, received between 2006 and 2008, which are providing the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with global airlift capability.

In addition, the RAAF C-17A fleet has supported Australian and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

“Acquisition of an additional C-17 would almost certainly obviate any need for the acquisition of two additional C-130J-30 aircraft,” Smith added.

Following receipt of cost and availability information from the US, Australia will make a decision about the proposed purchase.