The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will acquire an additional C-17A Globemaster III heavy-lift transport aircraft under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme route from the US, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith has confirmed.
Smith said the latest C-17, purchased at a total acquisition cost of $280m, would effectively double the number of C-17s available to the air force from two to four aircraft for conducting military operations.
In a joint statement with Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare, Smith said: "The additional C-17A will greatly increase Australia's capacity to respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian aid."
"This has been made even more apparent through the Australian Defence Force response to the 2011 Victorian floods, Cyclone Yasi and the Queensland floods, as well as the earthquake in Christchurch and the tsunami in Japan.''
The additional aircraft is expected to provide the Government with increased options to support a wider range of contingencies that might require heavy-lift aircraft and will extend the life of the current C-17 fleet by reducing the usage of each aircraft.
The Boeing-built heavy lift aircraft is expected to be delivered to the RAAF in early 2013.
The present RAAF C-17A fleet comprises of five aircraft, received from the US between 2006 and 2011, which are providing the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with global airlift capability.
The fifth C-17A was purchased by the air force at a cost of around $260m in September 2011.
The C-17 Globemaster III is a military tactical transport aircraft, designed to perform rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases worldwide.
The aircraft is also capable of conducting tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions.
Image: A RAAF C-17 Globemaster aircraft stationed at Multi National Base Tarin Kot in Afghanistan. Photo: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jennifer Spradlin, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.