Evolution of Air Force and Army unit at RAAF Base Richmond

A 51-year era for the Air Movements Training and Development Unit at RAAF Base Richmond will see another important transition as the unit is retitled the Air Mobility Training and Development Unit (AMTDU).

Tasked with the job of developing, testing and teaching new techniques for delivering cargo by Defence aircraft, AMTDU plays a critical role in the introduction of new aircraft like the C-27J Spartan and the MRH90 helicopter.

AMTDU have also conducted assessments on special payloads for the Australian Antarctic Division support flights by the C-17A Globemaster III, and on the delivery of  Humanitarian Assistance equipment to Fiji.

Coming under Air Force command, AMTDU is comprised of about 50 per cent RAAF and Army personnel respectively.

The simple name change – from Air Movements to Air Mobility – will take effect from April 1, and reflects the evolving nature of the unit’s role, according to its Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Matt Hetherington.

“We took on the ‘Air Movements’ title in 1965 at a time when Defence needed an organisation to train people in how to load new transports like the C-130A and E model Hercules,” he said.

“Today, our core business is threefold - Load Clearance and Development; Test and Evaluation (T&E); and Air Logistics Training, across the full spectrum of Air Mobility aircraft.”

Under Plan Jericho, AMTDU’s Load Development role will continue, but its T&E function will transition to the Air Warfare Centre. The focus on Air Movements training has also shifted in recent years with the RAAF School of Administration & Logistics Training  (RAAFSALT) taking on that role for Air Force, while AMTDU has retained the training of Army members.

“We will still perform and refine our fundamental job of Load Clearance and Development for the ADF,” WGCDR Hetherington said.

“However we will broaden our training functions, to include support to No's 84 and 86 Wing in the development of an air mobility mastery continuum.”

“This initiative aims to develop a cadre of Air Mobility professionals with the ability to plan and lead the delivery of integrated joint mobility effects at the operational level.

“It will be closely integrated with the Air Warfare Centre suite of courses, due to be rolled out over the coming years.”

The new name also reflects changes to AMTDU’s parent organisation, Air Mobility Group, and will communicate its role more accurately across Defence and foreign militaries.

The change comes in time for AMTDU members to march under the new Unit Banner in Sydney on Anzac Day.

The introduction of new Defence transports such as the C-17A Globemaster III, C-27J Spartan, and MRH90 helicopter requires AMTDU to conduct a range of work to certify payloads for proper carriage and delivery. This relies on engineering analysis and workforce experience to provide cleared plans on how to carry payloads.

AMTDU also continues to support upgrades to existing aircraft like the C-130J Hercules and CH-47 Chinook, especially in how to carry new vehicles or specialist equipment.

While these projects can be planned months or years in advance, AMTDU is often required to deliver short-notice assessments on the safe carriage of urgently required equipment, for humanitarian assistance and for carriage into operational theatres alike.