C-17A Globemaster III

The RAAF's eighth C-17A Globemaster arrives at RAAF Base Amberley.

The C-17A Globemaster III provides the Air Force with an unprecedented capacity for strategic airlift. It allows Australia to rapidly deploy troops, supplies, combat vehicles, heavy equipment and helicopters anywhere in the world.

Based at RAAF Base Amberley, all eight C-17As are operated by No. 36 Squadron, and provide a logistics backbone for Australian Defence Force operations overseas. This has included operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as East Timor.

Australia introduced an initial fleet of four C-17As between 2006 and 2008. Additional aircraft were acquired in 2011, 2012, and 2015.

C-17As have supported personnel on deployments, and been an integral part of disaster relief and humanitarian missions.

Past operations have included:

  • Op Bring Them Home (2014) in the Ukraine and Netherlands, following the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17;
  • Op Pacific Assist (2011) following the earthquake/tsunami in Japan;  
  • Op Queensland Flood Assist (2011);
  • Op Christchurch Assist (2011);
  • Op Philippines Assist (2013); and
  • Op Southern Indian Ocean (2014).

About the Aircraft

The C-17A Globemaster is a high-wing four-engine heavy transport aircraft. It is fitted with a cargo bay ramp that allows it to airdrop cargo in-flight, and can operate from unsurfaced runways as short as 3500 feet.

Able to carry up to 77 tonnes of cargo, the C-17A's cargo bay can accommodate loads ranging from:

  • an Abrams Tank;
  • four Bushmaster vehicles; or
  • three Black Hawk helicopters.

It can also be converted to a medical rescue aircraft.

The C-17A can be refuelled in-flight by the KC-30A, extending its range further.


Crew Pilot, Co-Pilot, Loadmaster
Length 53 m
Height 16.8 m
Wing span 51.75 m
Weight 128 tonnes (empty); 265 tonnes (maximum take off weight)
Engines Four Pratt & Whitney F-117-PW-100 turbofans
Thrust 40,440lb Force each
Range 10,390 kilometres with paratroopers
Ceiling 45,000ft
Max Speed Mach 0.74 (829km/h)
Capacity 134 passengers; 102 paratroopers; six high-dependency medical patients; one CH-47F Chinook helicopter; 18 463L military pallets; more than 70 tonnes of cargo.