The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will deploy a C-130J Hercules transport aircraft to Guam for Operation Christmas Drop 18, the world’s longest running humanitarian airdrop activity, from 5 to 18 December 2018.
Held annually since 1952, Operation Christmas Drop is led by the United States Pacific Air Force (PACAF) and involves C-130 Hercules crews airdropping loads to remote island communities spread over six million square kilometres of the West Pacific.
Australia will send a contingent of 16 personnel and a Hercules from RAAF Base Richmond to Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, to work alongside counterparts from the United States and Japan.
Taking off from Guam, Hercules crews will fly missions of up to 10 hours, delivering to communities more than 2,000 kilometres away, including the Northern Marianas Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau.
Flight Lieutenant Nicholas Bourke, RAAF Detachment Commander for Operation Christmas Drop 18, said it would yield vital experience for participants.
“Operation Christmas Drop enables us to build upon our skills individually, and also gives us the opportunity to work closely with the United States and Japan,”
Flight Lieutenant Bourke said.
“There’s also great satisfaction that comes with delivering supplies and gifts to remote communities and spreading the Christmas cheer.
“We have a long history of providing humanitarian airlift over vast distances of the Asia Pacific region and will continue to do so in the future.”
Over the past year, American personnel and their families have donated or raised money to purchase items that are delivered during Operation Christmas Drop, including construction materials, fishing nets, rice, soccer balls, and school supplies.
The RAAF’s No. 37 Squadron has also collected items for donation.