The Australian Antarctic Division and Royal Australian Air Force showcased the division’s enhanced logistical and scientific capabilities on Nov 22, 2015. In a joint operational mission to East Antarctica, the RAAF and the Antarctic Division have successfully flown C-17A Globemaster III to Wilkins Aerodrome, in support of the Australian Antarctic programme.

In just over five hours, the C-17A flew 3,450 kilometres, delivering a heavy lift cargo to Wilkins Aerodrome near Casey station at 3 pm. The aircraft carried 12,340 kilogrammes of cargo that included a brand new Hägglunds, a dual cab vehicle that is used to move equipment and personnel over the inhospitable terrain around Antarctic stations.

The flight is a first for the RAAF and Australian Antarctic Division. It is part of their trial of a series of concept flights, with the remaining flights scheduled to continue between November 2015 and February 2016.

C-17A, the largest aircraft to have flown to Aerodrome in Antarctica, can reach speeds of up to 830 kilometres per hour to a distance of 10,000 kilometres. Greg Hunt, the minister for the environment, remarked that the round trip cemented Tasmania’s position as a focal point of entry to Antarctica, Australian Defence Magazine reports.

“Whilst this is a first for the RAAF, other countries including the US regularly use military assets to assist with Antarctic logistics and I am confident Australia can do the same,” Hunt said. “The C-17A will supplement the Australian Antarctic Division’s current Airbus A319 operations, with a focus on heavy, oversized cargo.”

“The flights offer invaluable experience and capability enhancements to the Air Force,” stated Mal Brough, minister for Defence Materiel and Science. An ensuing full review will be undertaken by the Australian Antarctic Division and the Air Force after the proof-of-concept flights are completed.

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