A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules has departed New Zealand for Europe to assist with shipments of weapons and aid to Ukraine.
CAPTION: A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules departs Auckland for Europe. NZDF photo.
The Hercules left RNZAF Base Auckland this morning with a crew of nine other personnel on board, who are scheduled to begin transporting donated military aid bound for Ukraine from centres in Europe from next week.
Another 40 or so New Zealanders will deploy independently to a base in the United Kingdom in advance of the aircraft’s arrival, to start the preparations for the movement of donated military aid destined for Ukraine.
Among this group are alternative flying crew, maintenance technicians, and two air load teams which will manage cargo loads for the aircraft.
The two air load teams will also be able to assist with cargo movements on partner military aircraft.
Once based in the United Kingdom, the Hercules will begin flying between third countries in Europe, picking up donated military aid and transporting the cargo to destinations from where the stores can be taken by land into Ukraine.
The movement of donated military aid around Europe is being coordinated by an international coordination centre in Stuttgart, Germany.
The New Zealand Defence Force is deploying a group of eight personnel, including New Zealand Army logistics personnel and RNZAF air liaison and air movements personnel, to work as part of the international team coordinating the logistics for donations, matching transport to aid consignments, as well as receiving, packaging and arranging the onward transportation of military aid into Ukraine.
NZDF personnel will not be entering Ukraine.
A three-person advance party is currently in the United Kingdom to facilitate the arrival of the aircraft and assimilation of personnel into the Stuttgart coordination centre, before themselves travelling to Stuttgart later this week.
The deployment of the Hercules, air transportation and logistics personnel is in addition to the deployment of NZDF intelligence staff to the United Kingdom.
An officer is also being deployed to the UK Permanent Joint Headquarters, and a liaison officer will be working at a NATO headquarters in Belgium.
The NZDF’s open-source intelligence capability is being used to take advantage of time zone differences between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
A consignment of helmets, body armour, radios and other equipment was flown by military aircraft to Europe and delivered to Ukraine.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said this was a significant contribution by the New Zealand Defence Force as part of New Zealand’s efforts to support Ukraine’s self-defence.
“It’s complex and the situation in Ukraine is changing almost daily,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.
“With the deployment of our air transport and logistics support, we’re working with purpose to get them established in Europe, working alongside our partners, so they can get underway with transporting the large quantities of donated military aid to third countries, and to where it’s needed most – Ukraine.”
Base Commander Auckland Group Captain Andy Scott was at the departure as the aircraft left the Air Force base in Whenuapai for Europe.
“We should never underestimate the value we can provide to partners with the contribution of a cargo aircraft and a team of professional, highly motivated service personnel,” Group Captain Andy Scott said.
“In situations like this, airlift, logistics support and intelligence analysts are always key enablers and we are proud to be able to help.”
Wing Commander Lisa D’Oliveira, the Commanding Officer for RNZAF No 40 Squadron, said the squadron was excited to be sending a C-130 Hercules and detachment to support air-transport operations in Europe.
“This will provide the opportunity for us to operate in a multi-national environment ensuring donor aid can be made available to support the Ukrainians,” Wing Commander D’Oliveira said.
The deployment of the Hercules and RNZAF detachment is for up to 60 days, while the logistics team has been deployed for up to 90 days.