Green light for C-17
By Barry Rollings

Volume 49, No. 17, September 20, 2007
MADE IT: CDR ALG AIRCDRE Jack Plenty, CO 36SQN WGCDR Linda Corbould and CAF AIRMSHL Geoff Shepherd with the IOC certificate.
Photo by LAC Aaron Curran
HAPPY FAMILY: 36SQN members and their families from RAAF Base Amberley stand beneath the giant airlifter at Fairbairn.
Photo by LAC Aaron Curran
HAPPY FAMILY: Air Force News reporter Barry Rollings (front) joins other media and invited guests on board the aircraft for a familiarity flight above Canberra. Photo by LAC Aaron Curran
MADE IT: Minister for Defence Brendan Nelson.
Photo by LAC Aaron Curran
Grey skies greeted Air Force’s grey giant, the Globemaster III, when it flew into Canberra on September 11 for the formal recognition of gaining an Australian Military Type Certificate and also reaching initial operational capability (IOC).

Members of 36SQN and their families braved a chilly spring morning on the tarmac at Fairbairn as the Minister for Defence Brendan Nelson and CAF AIRMSHL Geoff Shepherd completed the formalities before the visitors and the media were treated to morning tea hosted by 34SQN, a 30-minute flight over the city and a brief look at the cockpit.

The Air Force’s first C-17 has successfully completed eight months of intensive introduction-into-service activities and is ready for operational tasks.

Dr Nelson described it as an “extraordinarily important day in the development of Australian airlift capability”.

The decision had been made in March 2006 to expand Australian airlift capability and reach across our continent and the world.

He said it was a great testament to the Air Force, the Defence Materiel Organisation, the US Air Force and Boeing that nine months after that decision had been made, the first of these four magnificent aircraft landed in Australia.

The second arrived in May and the third and fourth – being built by Boeing in the US – were expected in February and April next year, on time and on budget.

The two C-17s have already undertaken tasks to the US, UK, Middle East, Japan and Malaysia as well as across Australia.

“It will be a central part of Australia’s force projection,” Dr Nelson said.

“It can carry three-and-a-half times the amount of material that can be carried by a C-130, and carry it twice as far in a shorter timeframe.”

AIRMSHL Shepherd said the C-17s were already paying their way for the Air Force, the ADF and the people of Australia.

The C-17 was not a capability in itself; that was made up of many things, he said.

“But at the heart of any capability is our people; the most important part of the capabilities that we offer the government and the people of Australia,” AIRMSHL Shepherd said.

He thanked all involved in “this great project” and then presented a framed certificate of the Australian Military Type Certificate to the Commander Air Lift Group, AIRCDRE Jack Plenty.