The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) C-17A Globemaster III has successfully completed a joint operational mission to East Antarctica with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).
The aircraft in its final flight, which were conducted as part of a series of proof of concept flights, delivered heavy lift cargo to Wilkins Aerodrome in support of the Australian Antarctic programme.
The trial evaluated the potential for improvement in the logistic and scientific capability of the programme.
RAAF Air Operations director general air commodore Joe Iervasi said: "I am proud of the crews that have been involved in this collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division.
"Royal Australian Air Force successfully moved over 109t of machinery and cargo both in and out of Antarctica, conducted an air drop of four heliboxes from 500ft and simulated an emergency aero medical evacuation.
"The opportunity to test the C-17A in these conditions has proven to be an invaluable experience for the RAAF to enhance the capability of this aircraft and Australia’s logistical and scientific capabilities in Antarctica."
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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and AAD will evaluate the results obtained from the trial flight.
Australian Antarctic Division director Dr Nick Gales said: "The collaboration between the Australian Antarctic Division and the Royal Australian Air Force has showcased and further developed the specialist skills of both organisations, with tangible benefits to Australia’s Antarctic programme.
"We were able to deliver a range of critical equipment to and from Antarctica on the C-17A, including a 23t tractor flown from Wilkins to Hobart for repairs with a turnaround of just over two months, compared to two years via ship.
"Another piece of machinery was taken south just four weeks after it returned to Australia for repairs on the Aurora Australis.
The forces have declined the possibility of any future trial flights.
In November 2015, the RAAF and AAD completed a similar trial flight.
Image: RAAF Boeing C-17 landing at Kharkiv International Airport. Photo: courtesy of Amir Ahadi.