Spartan helps fortify Pacific ties

RAAF has completed its first Fijian rotation under the Defence Pacific Air Program (DPAP), which involves sending an air mobility detachment to Papua New Guinea and Fiji on a regular rotational basis.

CAPTIONA RAAF C-27J Spartan from 35 Squadron departs Nausori International Airport in Suva, Fiji. Story by Flight Lieutenant Imogen Lunny. Photos by Leading Arcraftwoman Annika Smit

Including a RAAF C-27J Spartan from 35 Squadron, the DPAP team touched down in Suva, Fiji, on February 18.

A Spartan will operate from the two Pacific nations on an ongoing six-week rotation to fortify south-west Pacific partnerships, enhance integration and bolster aviation support within the region.

35 Squadron Detachment Commander Flight Lieutenant Thomas Johnston said strong relationships were important for the collective security of the Pacific region.

CAPTIONRepublic of Fiji Military Forces’ Captain Robert Browne meets with RAAF’s Flight Lieutenant Tom Johnston during the first Defence Pacific Air Program rotation to Fiji.

“The primary objective of this rotation is reinforcing our ability to work alongside the Fijian government while concurrently supporting the development of Fiji’s national air capability,” Flight Lieutenant Johnston said.

“It’s great to be here working alongside our Fijian colleagues.

The flying in Fiji is spectacular and we are excited about the opportunity to develop our relationship with our Fijian counterparts.”

CAPTIONRAAF public affairs officer Flight Lieutenant Imogen Lunny (left), Republic of Fiji Military Forces Captain Robert Browne and military liaison officer Warrant Officer Class One Waisake Kadonavatu during their flight in a 35 Squadron C-27J Spartan as part of the first Defence Pacific Air Program rotation to Fiji.

Basing the C-27J in the area for each two-week period allows RAAF’s capabilities to be integrated with that of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), boosting ongoing support to Fijian sovereign aviation development.

Australian Defence Adviser Colonel Henry Stimson highlighted mutual benefits the Defence program brought to the region.

“DPAP helps deepen our partnership with Fiji through training, enhanced interoperability and the conduct of mutually beneficial tasks,” Colonel Stimson said.

“The offer of the C-27J to the Ministry for Home Affairs and Immigration on a regular rotational basis is an important opportunity for Fiji to consider how they might develop a sovereign aviation capability.”

Based out of Nausori International Airport, DPAP activities included coordinated missions alongside RFMF, static aircraft displays, familiarisation flights with Fijian government and military officials, and community engagement events.







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