Airdrop training in the Top End

10 August 2023

Flying low across Mount Bundy Training Area in the Northern Territory, a Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan conducted airdrops alongside Marine Rotational Force Darwin (MRF-D) as part of ongoing training.

35 Squadron crews on two airdrop flights dropped four light equipment bundles and three container delivery system loads out the back of the aircraft, while United States Marine Corps (USMC) personnel performed drop zone safety officer duties on the ground.

C-27J captain Flight Lieutenant Matthew Still, coordinated with the USMC to organise the airdrop training and ensured the airdrop loads landed safely in the drop zone while flying.

 “We learnt each other’s processes and procedures, then rehearsed and conducted the airdrop to assure mission success when we have to work together in future operations,” Flight Lieutenant Still said.

The airdrop loads were constructed by USMC MRF-D the day before, with the loading inspection jointly conducted with 35 Squadron.

This gave the squadron an opportunity to test and evaluate their procedures with non-familiar loads like those the USMC use. Loadmaster Warrant Officer Shaunn Segon said this builds on the airdrop experience of some of the junior loadmasters conducting the despatch.

“Some important considerations are ensuring the loads are rigged correctly and that we maintain the aircraft’s Centre of Gravity limitations,” Warrant Officer Segon said.

“The USMC rig their loads a little differently to ours so we ensure they’re safe to drop and fall within our guidelines and procedures.” 

The training is an opportunity for 35 Squadron and MRF-D to gain exposure to how international partners do business.

Located in RAAF Base Amberley, 35 Squadron was in the Top End for the multinational Exercise Talisman Sabre.

Gunnery Sergeant Emmanuel Alvarado, USMC aerial delivery specialist, was the drop zone safety officer for the airdrop, ensuring the safety of the air delivery and that the loads landed correctly within their parameters and limitations.

“This is the second time I’ve worked with the RAAF C-27J and it has been outstanding. The flexibility and willingness to work together and do something different has been great,” Gunnery Sergeant Alvarado said.

“This training integration between our two forces provides us increased understanding for future real-world operations.”



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