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Master plan for C-17s

By Andrew Stackpool
Volume 48, No. 4, March 23, 2006

C-17 Globemaster

C-17 Globemaster

Fast Facts

The purchase of the aircraft will be negotiated over the next six weeks with a minimum of three to be acquired.

The first aircraft will be delivered directly from the USAF and is scheduled to arrive in December 2006.

The Globemaster has a cargo-carrying capacity equivalent to the combined pallet load of three C-130s. It can carry three Tiger Armed Reconnaissance helicopters or a range of other helicopters, including a CH-47 Chinook.


“THE acquisition of the C-17 Globemaster III is a great outcome for Air Lift Group, Air Force, the ADF and Australia.”

Describing the acquisition, which was announced on March 3, as “A great outcome”, Air Lift Group (ALG) Commander AIRCDRE Glen Steed said while the question of a strategic airlifter has been under examination for several years as part of the ADF’s sea and airlift capabilities, recent commitments have highlighted that Australia lacks a large, oversized responsive global airlift capability.

“Historically, we have relied on our C-130 fleet and Boeing 707 force to meet our strategic and tactical airlift requirements and to support Army, Navy, the wider ADF and also national support, represented most recently by the Bali and tsunami emergencies,” AIRCDRE Steed said.

“It became clear that we are lacking in the oversized and bulk handling capacities and also rapid response.

“The C-130s have done us proud over the past decades.

The C-130Js have really stepped up to the mark and proved themselves to be the tactical airlifter of the future, but we can see a gap in our airlift capability from the global perspective, from the rapid response perspective and from a large bulkhandling/large sized capability.”

He said the ADF has a requirement for this capability, which will bring a quantum leap in what it can deliver.

“We’ve always been constrained and that’s been more and more apparent as we find we are required by the Australian public and Government to respond as quickly as we can to go anywhere in the world,” he said.

“[Whether it’s to] support Coalition forces, our interests and our people, evacuations such as Bali or provide support to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and the tsunami region – we do it in a large measure.

“[The C-17] is giving us a great opportunity to reshape what we’re trying to do. We must get into a much bigger capacity and we’ll move ahead where we see the need.”

Director General Aerospace Development AIRCDRE Chris Deeble said the aircraft were being acquired as part of a $2.2 billion package.

“This includes the acquisition of up to four aircraft, associated spares and equipment and training for air and ground crews,” AIRCDRE Deeble said.

“It also includes squadron facilities and the provision of improvements to handle heavy air lift cargo for selected air movement sections.

“Future upgrading of the aircraft is included as part of the collaborative C-17 Globemaster Sustainment Partnership and Global Reach Improvement Program.”

AIRCDRE Steed said the acquisition will pose special challenges for ALG. The current proposal is that No. 36SQN will fly the Globemaster from RAAF Base Amberley.

“The challenge will be working out how we move in a fairly rapid timeframe from the current ALG organisation to a new one by the end of the year that is comprised of C-130s, a mix of H and J, as well as standing up a new C-17 squadron.”

“No. 36SQN has a proud history. It goes back many years to WWII. It’s one of the most historic squadrons in ALG and to be going to this new capability with all its history is a fantastic outcome.”

AIRCDRE Steed said the Globemaster should not be seen as a strategic airlift capability, but as a combat airlift capability.

The aircraft will eventually do everything that the Air Force lift does from a tactical as well as a strategic, long-range level.

“We see it being able to operate across a whole range of scenarios,” he said.



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