Royal Australian Air Force celebrates 20 years of C-130J Hercules transport aircraft
In September 1999, the first of 12 C-130J Hercules flown by No. 37 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond was delivered to Australia; the fleet has since flown 137,000 flying hours. The anniversary flypast headed to Barrenjoey Heads and then RAAF Base Glenbrook, before returning to Richmond. There was also a reunion of past members.
Group Captain Nicholas Hogan, Officer Commanding No. 84 Wing at RAAF Base Richmond, said the C-130J workforce had supported Defence on missions away from Sydney for much of the past two decades. "The nature of C-130J work is short-notice, dynamic, and requires the aircrew to be flexible and responsive to complex problems as they complete the mission," Group Captain Hogan said. "The C-130J has been continuously deployed to the Middle East region since June 2008. Closer to home it has been an essential part of Defence responses to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, as well as to search and rescue support. Australia has a legacy of flying different Hercules models since December 1958, and the C-130J generation has more than earned its place in history."
In recent years, the C-130J fleet has been upgraded with satellite communications systems, aircraft self-protection systems, and improved battlespace awareness.
HAWKESBURY locals lined the roads around RAAF Base Richmond on Friday to watch a formation of six Hercules aircraft departing from the base as part of a 20-year celebration. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) celebrated 20 years of operating the C-130J model of the Hercules transport aircraft, with a flypast departing RAAF Base Richmond.
"The capability of the C-130J fleet has grown significantly, with future upgrades to include high-bandwidth satellite communications being installed on six aircraft," Group Captain Hogan said. "We've worked hard to evolve this airframe over the last 20 years, and it will continue to support Defence operations in the future."
From: Mark Attrill, Tallinn
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #083019
First and foremost, another great newsletter keeping us all informed about past and present.
Unfortunately, I have to steal Mike Stepney's 'Thunder' with regards to the story concerning UKMAMS and the Red Arrows. My own experience with the Reds, which bears an uncanny resemblance, pre-dates his own by about three years! If I recall correctly, it occurred in March or early April of 1984, at RAF Scampton with the Reds deploying to RAF Akrotiri for their annual pre-season workup. (I was posted shortly afterwards to be OC MSF at RAF Coltishall - unconnected before anyone asks!)
I do remember that Tony Saw and Paddy Power were with me and, like Mike's experience, the trouble started as soon as we hit the ground. It's not necessary to repeat the whole story since, as I have already said, much of it mirrors Mike's own experiences but I do remember a rather obnoxious MT Corporal (perhaps it was in the Job Specification for this post) 'advising' both Tony and myself that he was "fully qualified to push load items up the ramp" with the aid of a Landover only (complete with wooden beam strapped to the bumper) and no other guidance requirements.
At that time (1984), the Reds had a bespoke, rather top heavy, mobile tool cabinet that was about 6-7 feet high mounted on a contraption with a wheelbase of about 18 inches! The ensuing heated exchange over the presentation of this particular piece of Heath-Robinson Mk.1 GSE to the ramp almost resulted in Tony marching the said Cpl off to the Guardroom for insubordination (I kid you not!).
The Reds SENGO made threats to me about "career changing decisions" at which point the AC Captain (egged on by the Co-Pilot who had gone through Initial Officer Training with me) stepped in and started making inquiries with me (in front of the SENGO) about the legitimacy of some of the load being presented (bicycles and windsurfers) and whether it 'would fit'. After that, the SENGO got the message and allowed us to load safely and unhindered by his 'expert' team.
Needless to say, both the AC Captain and I filed Route Stage Reports upon our return to Lyneham and I do remember Graham Howard's comments (as MAMS Ops Officer) on the bottom of our own report, to this day. In fact, I have a copy of the report somewhere in storage back in the UK.
On the plus side it was a real team effort between the aircraft crew and ourselves that day to remind those that operate in the rarified atmosphere of our premier aerobatic display team that flight and aircraft safety applies equally to them. If I recall correctly, Colin Waite or Mark Vincenti had similar issues with the Reds in the same year. It was, therefore, somewhat puzzling to me when Mike's report from 1987 came across my desk (as Air Movements 1 at HQ 1 Group) to be staffed by the late, great, Wg Cdr Vic King since I thought we had, collectively, sorted out the Red Arrows support issues some years earlier - clearly not.
Keep up the good work
From: Ian Berry, West Swindon, Wilts
To: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Spain
Subject: Re: Trianco Transfer Loader
As per your request, here are some pictures of the Trianco Transfer Loader. One was taken somewhere down route [KSR or AKR?], then there was one tucked between the ConDec and the BFLP in the MAMS hangar at Abingdon. Finally, the one with the cage I suspect was at Abingdon pre-1967 where a load trial was being conducted by ATDU (JATE forerunner).
It all started with an SAS raid on the Iranian Embassy. [The Iranian Embassy siege took place from 30 April to 5 May 1980, after a group of six armed men stormed the embassy on Prince's Gate in South Kensington, London.]
I had just got to the NAAFI at Northolt for a pint when I was summond to get the Sherpa and go into to work by the boss (I can't remember her name).
I arrived at the terminal to be met by the boss and the Wg Cdr Ops and was briefed that we would be expecting 2 Pumas. After about 10 minutes the helicopters arrived and the crew came into the Movements building and informed us that they were off to Kensington Barracks to collect the SAS after the ending of the embassy siege.
30 minutes later they departed, only to return after about 10 minutes. They could not land at Kensington Barracks at night because of the proximity of overhead wires.
So, it all went to Plan B; the helicopters would go to Hyde Park to pick them up and off they went again only to return shortly afterwards. Apparently the gates to the park were locked and the SAS, with all their gear, could not get in(!).
About 5 minutes later two ambulances arrived at the Movements building and out got two guys in pyjama's with drips in their arms and made their way into the crew room (of course we made them a cuppa). These were the first members of the SAS to gain entry into the embassy and were both suffering from a slight concussion. Two Scout helicopters arrived to transport them back to their home base at Hereford.
After about 10 minutes, a white Army coach arrived with the rest of the SAS team and some 10 females, climbed into the waiting Pumas and took off for Hereford.
One the injured was John McAleese MM who had led the SAS raid on the embassy - he died in 2011. RIP
The engineers prepared the pod for transit by air and completed the F731 with as much detail as possible. I checked the F731 thoroughly before raising the F1380 to ensure that the pod had been vented which it had and had been signed off by the trade manager.
The adjutant signed the F1380 and off the palletised load went by road to Brize Norton for a VC10 flight the following day. This, we learned later, was a mixed freight/pax for Dulles and our consignment had been loaded at the front end.
As the aircraft climbed out of Brize Norton, an unpleasant smell was noticeable followed by a stream of red noxious liquid running down the centre aisle. The Loadmaster quite rightly raised the alarm and the captain elected to return to Brize Norton but had to jettison a significant amount of Avtur into the Bristol Channel before the aircraft could land.
All holy hell broke loose and Station Commander Brize Norton was not a happy man. The pod it appeared, on investigation by a team of Brize Norton engineers, had not been vented or blank capped and it certainly was not fit to fly. When something like this happens it really is interesting to watch the blame game get underway and the engineers were determined this was the fault of the Adjutant for signing off the F1380.
A Unit Inquiry was convened at Scampton at which I made very clear that the fault and responsibility rested solely with the Trade Manager and his team who had failed in every respect and had provided an invalid F731. That went down well amongst the engineers and I left Scampton a few days later for a 3-week detachment at Dulles Airport where I worked alongside Flight Lieutenants Peter King and Trevor Patch. When I returned to Scampton the Trade Manager and a couple of his team had been suddenly posted elsewhere! Interesting times for all concerned.
A RAAF C-130J Hercules flies over the Statue of Liberty, New York, 2000
9/11: Royal Australian Air Force remembers the help it gave to US
Throughout its history, Air Force’s No. 37 Squadron has often been first on the scene during times of crisis. Few might be aware that, following the Al Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001, a No. 37 Squadron C-130J Hercules and its crew were amongst the first to land in New York City.
Squadron Leader Kevin Bruce, currently a reservist instructor with No. 37 Squadron, recounted the events that led to a mission from Atlanta to New York City following the attacks. “We were in the United States in September 2001 completing the testing of the Block 5.3 upgrade to the C-130J,” Squadron Leader Bruce said. “The Hercules used for the trials – A97-442 – was operated from Dobbins Air Base in Atlanta, Georgia, adjacent to the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules manufacturing plant.”
The crew included pilot Flight Lieutenant (now Group Captain) Paul Long, and Flight Lieutenants Jayson Livingstone and Michael Crooks as the co-pilots. They were supported by loadmasters Warrant Officers Mick Smith and Graeme Clark
“9/11 happened towards the end of our final phase – the following day, we went to Lockheed Martin, but no aircraft were allowed to fly,” Squadron Leader Bruce said. “All airborne aircraft during 9/11 were landed at the nearest airfield once air traffic control worked out what was happening.”
A change of plans
Dobbins Air Base – located just 50 kilometres from Atlanta - was filled with commercial airliners in the days following 9/11. Atlanta also happened to be the home of the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Group Captain Steve Bucholtz, the RAAF Assistant Air Attachè in Washington DC, received a request to ferry CDC personnel and equipment to New York. “To some extent, this was because the United States Air Force command chain was focused on recovery from the attack on the Pentagon, as well as responding in other areas,” Squadron Leader Bruce said.
The CDC team would investigate the ground zero site and determine whether any biological agents had been used in the attacks. The mission on September 14 was a joint task between Lockheed Martin and the RAAF, taking a Lockheed Martin Test Pilot, Flight Lieutenant (now Squadron Leader) Michael Crooks, and Squadron Leader Bruce. Squadron Leader Crooks recalled that the crew and the CDC team posed for a photo together at the aircraft, before embarking on the mission.
“The CDC team and the intermediaries were truly grateful for the assistance the RAAF was providing during an unprecedented moment in their nation’s history,” Squadron Leader Crooks said.
A surreal flight to New York
The Hercules carried 31 passengers for the two-and-a-half hour flight to New York, with the only other air traffic being fighter aircraft on combat air patrol missions, and refuelling tankers.
“The flight up was eerie – airspace that for decades before and the decades since were and are a continual buzz of activity was literally silent,” Squadron Leader Crooks said. “We were handed from one air traffic controller to another with little more than a welcome, then silence. This was on airwaves that are typically a continual stream of control instructions and replies.
“We were often thanked with sincerity and transferred to the next controller where the scene was repeated. I doubt and hope that this experience will ever be repeated again.”
Both the weather and air traffic around New York on September 14 contrasted heavily with that of September 11.
“The arrival into La Guardia Airport was truly surreal; The airfield had been closed since September 11 and the weather was poor with low cloud and showers about,” Squadron Leader Crooks said. “If this had been the weather 72 hours earlier, [I wonder] how would the events of September 11, and the geostrategic events that followed, would have played out? “We approached the airfield from the south roughly paralleling Manhattan Island, through breaks in the cloud I can still recall seeing the gap in the skyline where the towers had stood three days before.”
The C-130J was the first aircraft to land at La Guardia Airport since all airline traffic had been grounded. With the CDC team unloaded, the Hercules departed back to Atlanta a few hours later; a week later the Block Upgrade test programme was resumed.
Today, missions to airfields in Afghanistan are relatively frequent for RAAF C-130J crews, but few might be aware of their aircraft’s role in the immediate wake of the September 11 attacks. “The more time that passes, the more I realise that this was a moment in time that was unique in every aspect,” Squadron Leader Crooks said. “It is a significant, but little known part of the RAAF’s C-130J’s story.”
defence.gov.au (By Eamon Hamilton, 12 September 2019)
Four VIP and light transport aircraft used by the United Kingdom's command support squadron have been put up for sale by UK's Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA). Details of the aircraft were included in a DESA brochure distributed at the 2019 DSEI event in London. The brochure stated that both variants of BAe 146 - two CC.2 VIP variants and two CC.3 quick change cargo variants - are up for sale.
The aircraft are currently used by 32 (The Royal) Squadron based at UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Northolt in West London to fly members of the Royal Family, government leaders, and senior military officers around the world.
The two BAe 146 CC.2s were purchased in the 1980s and the two CC.3s were acquired second hand in 2012.
A Ministry of Defence (MoD) source close to the project told Jane's it was "too early in the process to be discussing out-of-service dates and replacements [of the BAe 146s]". He said putting BAe 146 in the brochure was about "testing the market's appetite for a potential sale in the future".
to the memory of
Ken Auckett (RAAF)
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