Spartan strengthens partnerships in PNG

Flying across the highlands of Papua New Guinea, a RAAF C-27J Spartan conducted airlift operations in support of its close partner, the PNG Defence Force and PNG government.

CAPTIONA RAAF C-27J Spartan from 35 Squadron parked at Telefomin Airport, Papua New Guinea, during the Defence Pacific Air Program. Story by Flight Lieutenant Claire Campbell. Photos by Corporal Samuel Miller.

Part of the Defence Pacific Air Program (DPAP) 2024, the aircraft from 35 Squadron has supported PNGDF troop movements, delivered essential supplies to remote areas and strengthened this special partnership.

DPAP is an Australian Government program to increase presence and the sovereign aviation needs of the South West Pacific, as C-27J pilot Flight Lieutenant Ben Howlett explained.

“Utilising the C-27J Spartan, we’re able to access fields in both the coastal areas and highlands, as well as the islands around PNG to support the government and their defence force,” Flight Lieutenant Howlett said.

“The C-27J is particularly adept at operations around PNG as well as the South West Pacific. It can access more austere fields and lends itself very well to airlift operations, including humanitarian and disaster relief.”

CAPTIONFlight Lieutenant Les Coulson, of 35 Squadron, prepares to land a C-27J Spartan aircraft at Tabubil Airport, Papua New Guinea.

DPAP has provided an opportunity for RAAF aviators to train in essential skills and gain experience in conducting a variety of operations in the region alongside their PNG counterparts.

Sergeant Walter Torova is the acting Command Sergeant Major within PNG Air Transport Wing Movements. He explained how RAAF personnel have helped his team develop new skills.

“We have learned a lot from RAAF Movements personnel, who demonstrated loading and unloading procedures, strapping and netting of cargo, and how to operate the forklift,” Sergeant Torova said.

“My favourite thing about working with the RAAF is travelling on their aircraft, seeing the different provinces of PNG.”

DPAP and 35 Squadron also assisted the PNG government to deliver emergency relief supplies during the recent earthquake in the East Sepik region, as C-27J co-pilot Flying Officer Hayden Krammer explained.

“The opportunity to assist one of our partner nations in a time of need is one of the most rewarding experiences that I have been a part of and one of the reasons I joined the RAAF,” Flying Officer Krammer said.

“The days were long but I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

CAPTIONA RAAF C-27J Spartan from 35 Squadron lands at Tabubil Airport, Papua New Guinea.


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