Over the period 13–24 November 2017, 44 Royal Australian Air Force personnel and a C-27J Spartan transport aircraft will participate in Exercise Mhanuu 2017 in New Caledonia.
FILE PHOTO: A RAAF C-27J Spartan at Shark Bay Airport, Western Australia. Photo by Corporal Oliver Carter.
Exercise Mhanuu is hosted by the French Armed Forces of New Caledonia (FANC) and involves rehearsing regional humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief (HADR) scenarios.
As the South Pacific is prone to natural disasters, the Australian Defence Force is committed to working closely with its regional partners to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance as required.
The Spartan, from No. 35 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond, has joined FANC at an air base near Noumea and will operate in coordination with French aircraft during the exercise.
Commanding Officer No. 35 Squadron Wing Commander Jarrod Pendlebury said Mhanuu would serve as a valuable training experience for the RAAF.
“We carry a tremendous amount of experience with HADR operations, and it’s important to apply that knowledge to the Spartan workforce,” Wing Commander Pendlebury said.
“This includes flying missions to airdrop aid and personnel, evacuate people from remote airstrips, and conduct aero-medical evacuations.
“Bringing the Spartan to Mhanuu ensures that we can build techniques with regional partners from France and New Zealand, and be ready to respond if called.”
Spartan, which entered RAAF service in mid-2015, carries a payload of five tonnes, or 34 passengers.
Wing Commander Pendlebury said Spartan’s relatively small size allows it to access airstrips too narrow or soft for larger airlifters, which significantly enhances the RAAF’s HADR capabilities across the Pacific.
“The air force has a wide range of air-mobility platforms that can deliver relief supplies and specialist personnel around the globe, but it’s the Spartan’s job to deliver over that last tactical mile.
“Mhanuu allows partner nations to better understand what RAAF can do, as well as providing No. 35 Squadron the opportunity to work in an unfamiliar environment.”