The Australian Government has confirmed plans to purchase two more C-17A Globemaster III tactical transport aircraft from Boeing for an estimated cost of $1bn.
In a joint statement with the Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abott said the additional C-17s, acquired along with associated equipment and facilities will augment the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) existing fleet of six strategic lift aircraft.
Specifically, the new aircraft are expected to provide vital heavy airlift support to a range of regional and global coalition operations and increase the country’s capacity to provide rapid and effective disaster rescue and relief and humanitarian aid.
Approximately $300m will be spent on upgraded facilities at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, including a dedicated maintenance hangar, as well as apron and taxi-way upgrades to cater for heavy aircraft including the KC-30 aerial refuelling tankers and the C-17 fleet.
Apart from enhancing the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) ability to respond to a range of contingencies, the project is also anticipated to provide significant work opportunities for the domestic industry.
Delivery of the first aircraft is scheduled within six months of the initial order, while the second C-17 would be handed over the RAAF within ten months of the arrival of the first airlifter.
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 and can also conduct tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions.
The RAAF C-17s are based at RAAF Base Amberley. They have so far delivered equipment, personnel and aid as part of Operation Pacific Assist in Vanuatu, supplied humanitarian aid and materiel in Iraq, and also supported the recovery of MH17 victims from eastern Ukraine.
Relief assistance was also provided by the fleet to victims of the Japanese tsunami, the Christchurch earthquake and the Queensland floods.
Image: A RAAF C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft lands at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Robin Stanchak.