Torres Strait Island communities are set to benefit from C-27J Spartans’ increased capability to land and take-off on shorter and less prepared runways.
CAPTION: Corporal Jordan Oakley and Corporal Ashleigh Shannon greet members of the Badu Island community, during Exercise Coastwatcher Wallaby 23. Story by Corporal Jordan Oakley and Corporal Ashleigh Shannon greet members of the Badu Island community, during Exercise Coastwatcher Wallaby 23. Story by Tastri Murdoch. Photos by Private Dean Armstrong.
To demonstrate the C-27J Spartan’s unique capability, 35 Squadron crew employed advanced flying techniques to take-off and land on the small island of Badu’s approximately 800m long runway for the first time, with Badu’s local community lining the airfield to cheer them on.
The C-27J Spartan then went on static display and the local community was invited on board to chat with the crew.
35 Squadron executive officer and pilot Squadron Leader Nathan Thompson said the community support is imperative.
“Community engagement is so important because we want to reassure the locals that when they look up at the sky and see our aircraft, they know that we are there to help,” Squadron Leader Thompson said.
Leading Aircraft Woman Raba Nona, 35 Squadron aviation technician and Badu hometowner, was elated to greet the crowd and reunite with family.
CAPTION: Media join loadmasters from 35 Squadron on board a C-27J Spartan over the Torres Strait Islands, during Exercise Coastwatcher Wallaby.
The flight to Badu was part of Exercise Coastwatcher Wallaby 23 in mid-July, which demonstrated to media teams the C-27J Spartan’s unique capabilities which will strengthen ties between 35 Squadron and Charlie Company, 51st Battalion, The Far North Queensland Regiment (51FNQR).
35 Squadron attended a briefing with Charlie Company at Sarpeye Barracks on Thursday Island, with a Channel 9 journalist and cameraman team and journalist/photographer from Australian Defence Magazine, travelling across from Horn Island via Charlie Companies regional patrol craft.
Squadron Leader Thompson emphasised the importance of strengthening ties with Charlie Company and broader 51FNQR.
“The C-27J Spartan is unique among ADF aircraft, allowing access to the remotest airfields in the Torres Strait Islands and providing an aerial resupply to the Charlie Company ground forces when they are deployed to islands without an airfield.”
Charlie Company is mostly made up of Torres Strait Islander soldiers, who provide surveillance of both land and sea in the local area, including the strategically significant Prince of Wales Channel ‘maritime choke point.’
“Exercise Coastwatcher Wallaby 23 was a valuable opportunity to take media along to demonstrate the C-27J Spartan capabilities, and how it can support our joint forces and the Torres Strait Island communities.”
CAPTION: Members of the Badu Island community with 35 Squadron and ADF members during Exercise Coastwatcher Wallaby.