C-130J Hercules airdrops Christmas aid to West Pacific – Australian Aviation

C-130J Hercules airdrops Christmas aid to West Pacific – Australian Aviation

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A RAAF C-130J Hercules prepares to land at Mount Bundey Training Area during Exercise Diamond Storm 2022. (Defence, LAC Sam Price)

The RAAF has commenced “Operation Christmas Drop”, joining partner nations to deliver 200-kilogram bundles of goodwill to support over 20,000 people in remote communities across the West Pacific.

This includes deploying a C-130J Hercules carrying 24 personnel to Guam in support of the United States Pacific Air Forces’ (PACAF) humanitarian airdrop activity.

The packages include fishing line, rice, sporting equipment and school supplies, along with donated toys, books and clothing.

The RAAF is expected to be supported by counterparts from Japan, New Zealand, India, and the Republic of Korea.

Over the course of the operation — to take place from 1 December to 12 December — the nations are scheduled to fly to each conduct airdrop missions in the Republic of Palau, Northern Marianas, and Federated States of Micronesia.

The area covers approximately 6 million square kilometres of the West Pacific.

Air Commodore David Strong, Commander Air Mobility Group, noted the importance of PACAF’s Operation Christmas Drop, with Australia participating since 2015.

“This year marks our return to Christmas Drop Guam after a three-year absence and we are honoured to again have the opportunity to support our Pacific partners and celebrate Christmas with some of the more remote parts of the region,” AIRCDRE Strong said.

“Additionally, the operation promises to be a professionally and personally fulfilling activity for the crews involved.

“It’s a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with other Indo-Pacific Hercules aircraft and build relationships at the aviator level, which will benefit our cooperation in future.”

Having been manufactured for more than 60 years, the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules is the longest continuously produced military aircraft.

In total, 48 have supported ADF operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor and Vietnam, and humanitarian disaster relief missions in Pakistan, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.

Australia obtained its initial batch in December 1958, becoming the first nation to operate the aircraft outside of the US Air Force.

The four-engine turboprop, medium-lift aircraft increased transport capability, and reduced reliance on piston-driven aircraft such as the C-47.

The latest J variant was first operated in 1999 by the RAAF.

Australian Aviation reported in November how Australia looks set to purchase 24 new versions of the Hercules for up to $10 billion to replace its ageing fleet of the iconic aircraft.

While Defence said it was committed to “replacing and expanding” the Lockheed Martin C-130, the US State Department seemingly gave away more details of a possible deal when it formally granted permission for the transaction.

If the agreement goes ahead, Australia would acquire the new ‘130J-30’ variant that adds more than 4 metres to the fuselage.

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