Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR MAY 2015 Contents 7
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 09 | May 2015
Australian Prime Minister Tony
Abbott announced on 10 April that the
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) would
receive two additional Boeing C-17A
Globemaster III strategic lift aircraft.
The deal will bring the RAAF’s C-17
fleet to eight and increase its ability to
undertake the heavy airlift role and move
outsized cargo, heavy and armoured ve-
hicles and bulk supplies from Australian
bases to operations at great distance
from the mainland.
The RAAF’s C-17 force is a key ena-
bler in the deployability and responsive-
ness of the Australian Army’s Special Air
Service Regiment and 2nd Commando
Regiment, able to transport tactical
teams and their vehicles at short warn-
ing. Each C-17 can, for instance, com-
fortably carry the tactically meaningful
package of three 10 tonne combat laden
6x6 Nary/Commando – Special Opera-
tions Vehicles plus crew and their equip-
ment and land them on austere air strips
at locations up to 2,400nm away without
Operated by No 36 Squadron out of
RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, the
C-17s also play a pivotal role in the Aus-
tralian Defence Force’s (ADF) response
capabilities for humanitarian and disaster
The AUD$1 billion acquisition includes
AUD$300 million to upgrade heavy
aircraft facilities at RAAF Base Amber-
ley, including a dedicated maintenance
hangar and increased apron and taxi-
The RAAF is expected to take delivery
of the first C-17 around 6 months follow-
ing the first order, and the second within
10 months after that.
The previous Australian Minister for
Defence David Johnston said in late Oc-
tober 2014 that a further two C-17s may
be purchased to increase the fleet to 10
aircraft, with confirmation anticipated in
the forthcoming Force Structure Review.
– Ian Bostock
ABOVE: Two more C-17A Globemaster III heavy airlifters are on the way for the RAAF,
with another two a possibility. Images: ADF
More heavy lifters for RAAF
Latest AMRAAM variant fielded
The latest version of the AIM-120
Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air
Missile (AMRAAM) has successfully
completed testing and is now fielded
by the US Air Force (USAF) and has
also achieved initial operational capa-
bility (IOC) with the US Navy (USN),
manufacturer Raytheon announced on
The new AIM-120D AMRAAM was
subjected to several scenarios by the
A larger C-17 fleet gives the ADF more options about the type and size of the capabilities it can
deploy. The Australian Army in particular benefits from a greater number of available airframes
as it offers the potential to deploy combat teams or ad hoc force packages at very short
warning and have them landed in theatre within 24 hours of taking off from mainland Australia.
Such forces might include early entry or rapid intervention forces where infantry and/or
combat power is required urgently on the ground to turn the tide of battle or render safe a
deteriorating tactical situation.
For the first time the Army will have the option of deploying, for instance, a small but heavy
armour-centric force extracted from an Armoured Cavalry Regiment complete with vehicle
crews, dismounts and some support personnel. With six out of 10 C-17A aircraft available for
the task, this might consist of a troop of three M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks (three aircraft
at one tank per aircraft) and six Land 400 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRV; each at
a nominal 35 tonnes combat weight with two per aircraft) or three Infantry Fighting Vehicles
(anticipated 40-42 tonne combat weight so only one per aircraft).
The 77 tonne cargo payload of the C-17A leaves margin for the two heaviest of these lifts:
the 63 tonne M1A1 Abrams and a pair of CRVs at a combined weight of around 70 tonnes.
Additional fuel, ammunition, supplies and engineering support to sustain the force beyond 24-
36 hours would be delivered in subsequent C-17A sorties.
MIDDLE: An M1A1 Abrams main battle
tank from the 1st Armoured Regiment
is loaded into a No 36 Squadron C-17A
Globemaster III heavy airlifter. The
aircraft flew in to RAAF Base Edinburgh,
South Australia on 21 February to
transport the M1A1 Abrams and its crew to
the Australian International Airshow 2015
at Avalon, Victoria.
USAF designed to represent realistic
combat conditions, against which the
AIM-120D demonstrated outstanding
capability versus challenging targets,
performing “superbly” in all regimes
of flight, a company statement read.
Airborne testing verified that the AIM-
120D is ready for overseas deployment.
IOC with the USN followed extensive
flight testing, where the missile was in-
tegrated and tested on F/A-18 Hornet
and Super Hornet aircraft. The USN
plans to deploy with the AIM-120D AM-
RAAM later in 2015.
The AIM-120D AMRAAM is the new-
est air-to-air weapon in the US air com-
bat inventory and has significant capa-
bility improvements over earlier variants,
including increased range, GPS-aided
navigation, two-way data link and im-
proved warhead effectiveness.
– Matthew Mendenhall
Australian Army CH-47F Chinooks arrive
The Australian Army commissioned
the first two Boeing CH-47F Chinook
helicopters at Royal Australian Air Force
Base Townville, Queensland, on 5 May.
Acquired to replace the six in-service D
models, a further five new CH-47F Chi-
nooks will be delivered by August 2015
through Project Air 9000 Phase 5C.
The project, according to Rear Admiral
Tony Dalton, Defence Materiel Organ-
isation’s Head of Helicopters, Tactical
Unmanned Aerial Systems and Guided
Weapons Division, “remains on schedule
and under budget”.
Two transportable flight proficiency
simulators have also been procured by
the project, and were delivered in April
2014 and February 2015.
To be operated by the Army’s 5th Avia-
tion Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade, the
CH-47F Chinooks will be used primarily
for trooplift, artillery emplacement and
battlefield resupply. The new helicopters
will also play a key role in amphibious
operations when embarked on the Royal
Australian Navy’s new Canberra-class
amphibious assault ships.
As part of early noise and vibration flight testing by the USAF, an AIM-120D AMRAAM is
loaded into the internal weapons bay of an F-22A Raptor. Image: USAF
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