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Military assets successfully aid Australia's Antarctic mission

The C-17A is the largest aircraft ever to land on the Wilkins Aerodrome runway."

On February 19, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) completed a series of test flights that assisted the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). This was the first time military assets have been used in conjunction with the AAD, the RAAF collaborating on the operation to help increase accessibility and transport efficiency for the scientific team based at Casey Station, 70 kilometers from Wilkins runway. Since November, the C-17A Globemaster moved over 109 tonnes of cargo and heavy machinery for use and repair over five return missions.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The C-17A has successfully flown the final proof of concept mission to Wilkins Aerodrome. <a href="https://t.co/QCACgS1HNZ">https://t.co/QCACgS1HNZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/9G8FqQ1Y9o">pic.twitter.com/9G8FqQ1Y9o</a></p>&mdash; Antarctic Division (@AusAntarctic) <a href="https://twitter.com/AusAntarctic/status/700824724499075073">February 19, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Before these proof-of-concept flights, the AAD was only able to use sea freight for major shipments - namely, a single summer visit from the Aurora Australis due to ice build up over winter. Director General of Air Operations Joe Iervasi commented on the new precedent set for Australia-Antarctica logistics proficiency.

"We were able to deliver a range of critical equipment to and from Antarctica on the C-17A, including a 23-tonne tractor flown from Wilkins to Hobart for repairs with a turnaround of just over two months, compared to two years via ship," said Iervasi.

Dr Nick Gales, Director of the AAD, told ABC news that he is excited about the enhanced logistics and noted that using sea freight had been "problematic."

"It opens up an enormous range of possibilities [...] it's something that we've needed for a long time," said Dr Gales.

The collaboration was commended by Minister of the Environment Greg Hunt and Minister of Defence Marisa Payne on Saturday, February 20, but it is unclear whether this air freight assistance to the AAD will continue regularly. However, consensual celebration suggests it is likely.

Previously, C-17As have been used for various missions, including military deployment in Afghanistan and crisis assistance in the Christchurch earthquake and Queensland flood. With a capacity three times the size of the C-130 Hercules, the airship is capable of carrying cargo upwards of 77 tonnes a distance around 10,000 km. There are currently eight of the aircrafts operated by the RAAF, however two new C-17As have been ordered to augment the fleet to 10.

Interconnect Systems has a comprehensive background in aerospace and defence engineering, being an industry leader for more than 20 years. It provides electrical interconnect products and solutions, including cable and wire harness manufacture. For more information on the best backshells and cable harness solutions, contact Interconnect Systems today on 1800 812 214 FREE.

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