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RAAF C-17 flying around the clock in Japan
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Staff Sgt. Rolando Rivera, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron, taxis in a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from the 36th Airlift Squadron here March 18. The RAAF transported the Japan Ground Self Defense Force's 15th Brigade from Okinawa to help with Japan's earthquake and tsunami relief effort. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen/Released)
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RAAF C-17 flying around the clock in Japan

Posted 3/18/2011   Updated 3/18/2011 Email story   Print story


by Captain Aaron Oldaker
RAAF Public Affairs

3/18/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is working around the clock to help ferry personnel and supplies from Okinawa to the Japanese disaster zone as part of Operation Pacific Assist - the ADF component of the Australian Government's assistance to Japan following the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

Two RAAF air crews from Amberley's 36 Squadron are working in alternate shifts to fly their C-17 Globemaster III to Kadena air base in Okinawa, pick up members of the 15th Brigade of the Japanese Ground Self Defence Force (JGSDF), their vehicles and equipment, and fly them to the Japanese mainland to assist the disaster relief effort.

Commander of the Australian Contingent, Wing Commander David Howard, said the mission was very challenging, but the C-17, and the RAAF personnel flying and supporting it, were up to the task.

"The mission requires loading up the C-17 with whatever the 15th Brigade deems necessary for the relief effort, such as trucks, trailers and personnel," Wing Commander Howard said.

"The C-17 gives us the opportunity to lift quite a large payload, a long way in a fairly short time, so it's crucial in moving those forces around.

"To help us achieve this, the RAAF has also deployed an eight-person Mobile Air Load Team (MALT) that specialises in preparing and arranging loads to fill the C-17's cavernous interior.

"We haven't done this sort of activity with the JGSDF before. We anticipate it will take between eight and 10 C-17 loads to relocate all the elements they want to move, and we're achieving that as a cooperative effort with the United States Air Force.

"We've got enough people here on Pacific Assist to operate the aircraft around the clock, and we've being doing that for the last couple of days in support of this 15th Brigade movement," he said.

Wing Commander Howard said that although they were working at a very high tempo, all the personnel on Operation Pacific Assist were aware of the importance of their task.

"Everybody here on Operation Pacific Assist is very aware of the gravity of the disaster and they are very keen to help the Japanese Government, and the Japanese people, any way they can," he said.

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