News>Air Force maintainers give Australians peek into their future
U.S. and Australian maintainers work on a C-17 Globemaster III nose steering actuator at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii Oct. 19, 2006. Maintainers from Amberly Royal Australian Air Force Base's 36th Squadron are working along side their U.S. Air Force counter parts from the 15th Maintenance Group learning the ins and outs of the Globemaster III in preparation for the delivery of their first C-17. (U.S. Air Force photo / Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)
10/24/2006 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Maintainers from the Amberly Royal Australian Air Force Base's 36th Squadron are working alongside Air Force counterparts learning the ins and outs of the C-17 Globemaster III.
Currently Australia doesn't have a heavy airlift capability and must rely on outside sources for services. This assistance normally takes the form of Air Force airlift or contract carriers. But in March 2006, the Australian government announced it would purchase four C-17s as well as associated equipment and services. They're scheduled to receive their first Globemaster Nov. 28.
The C-17 will improve Australia's capability to facilitate burden sharing with th United States rapidly deploying in support of global coalition operations and sharing in regional humanitarian/peacekeeping operations, Australian officials said.
"The C-17 will give Australia a new global airlift capability, significantly enhancing our ability to support national and international operations and major disasters rescue and relief efforts," Australia's acting Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal John Blackburn said.
Australian maintainers, who have C-130 Hercules backgrounds, have been on Hickam getting first-hand experience and training with operational C-17 crews and maintainers.
"It's been a good experience," said Cpl. Matthew Brown, one of the Australian maintainers. "The Air Force guys have been friendly and helpful and have given us the training that we need. They have prepared us for when we get back to our own squadron."
The Hickam Airmen working with the Australians have noticed the little differences that make up this joint partnership. For them, each duty is broken down into separate jobs. The Australians merge several of the specialties into one job.
"It's interesting because they are structured different then us," said Tech Sgt. Daniel Hiyama of the 154th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "They are a crew chief, hydraulics, jet and air conditioning (specialist). We have strictly a hydraulics or strictly a crew chief."
Australia is one of America's most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensure peace and economic stability in the region.
Australia joins Britain's Royal Air Force as operators of the C-17 Globemaster III. Australian officials plans to base the aircraft at Amberly, which is near Brisbane.