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New heavy lift capability for Air Force

03 March 2006

The Minister for Defence, Dr Brendan Nelson, announced plans for a new heavy airlift capability during a visit to RAAF Base Richmond on 3 March 2006.

"I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government will acquire up to four new Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and associated equipment to provide the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with a heavy airlift capability," Dr Nelson said.

"The Government has selected the C-17 by for its ability to meet the needs of the ADF over the next 30 years."

This is the only aircraft currently in production which has a proven capability to meet ADF operational commitments, in Australia, the region and globally.

The C-17 has four times the carrying capacity of the RAAF C-130 Hercules. The C-17 aircraft has the load capacity and range that will allow the ADF to rapidly deploy troops, combat vehicles, heavy equipment and helicopters.

This includes the M1A1 Abrams tank, as well as Black Hawk, Seahawk, and Chinook helicopters. Each C-17 has the capacity to transport five Bushmaster Infantry Vehicles, or three Tiger helicopters.

The fleet of up to four aircraft will give Australia a new Responsive Global AirLift (RGA) capability, significantly enhancing the ADF’s ability to support national and international operations, and major disaster rescue and relief efforts.

As the C-17 aircraft is currently in production, it is possible for the first aircraft to be delivered later this year with the balance of the fleet to be delivered by mid 2008.

This will give the ADF the Responsive Global Airlift operating capability it needs within a short time-frame. Acquisition of the C-17 will also provide significant opportunity for our aerospace industry with Boeing proposing an Australian Industry Capability program valued at $345m over the life of the aircraft.