All RAAF Heavy Transport Aircraft are perfectly suited for a simple and temporary adaption into potent airborne firefighting capabilities that would complement existing civilian arrangements, and, be of major benefit during bush fire events like those being experienced throughout Australia currently. The roll on roll off equipment could well be available ‘off the shelf’ from overseas sources and if not a relatively simple engineering task to manufacture here in Australia.
It would require locating some of these assets away from their current base but only during the Bushfire season. For example just one fully fitted out C-17A Globemaster located at RAAF Base Edinburgh South Australia would be able to cover emergency situations in WA SA & Victoria given its speed, range & massive payload capabilities.
Locating one C130 J Hercules and one C27-J Spartan Aircraft, each fully fitted with the roll on roll off equipment at RAAF bases in Melbourne, Adelaide & Perth. once again complementing the existing airborne resources utilized in Bushfire emergencies. The crews could be rotated similar to current overseas deployments. At the end of the Fire season, the Aircraft would return to their home base.
Roll on roll off equipment would be retained at RAAF Bases Amberley & Richmond ready for immediate deployment as required.
The aircraft could be refuelled & recharged with retardant etc from existing facilities in each state. This would mean most if not all of Australia would be assisted in a relatively short time rather than having these valuable assets all located in Southern Queensland and North Central NSW.
If implemented, this plan would mean one C-17A Globemaster plus three C130 J Hercules & three C27J Spartan Aircraft would temporarily be deployed away from their home base for the duration of the Fire season. As these assets are funded by the Australian taxpayer, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
The RAAF has highly trained and skilled Pilots and crews, many with Combat experience after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most if not all would welcome the chance to continue to serve their communities in emergencies like Wildfires.
The Aircraft: (Information sourced from the RAAF Website)F
The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a twin engine turboprop aircraft that’s fitted with a cargo bay ramp that allows it to airdrop cargo in-flight. It has a range of 1,700 km (maximum take-off weight) and a maximum speed of 670km/h. It has impressive short take off & land capabilities from sealed or unsurfaced runways. The RAAF currently has 10 of these Aircraft based at RAAF base Richmond NSW.
The Lockheed C-130J Hercules medium transport has 4 turbo prop engines, a top speed of 643 m/h a range of 6,842 km (no payload) and can carry up to 19,500kg. It is also fitted with a cargo bay ramp that allows it to airdrop cargo in-flight It has impressive short take off & land capabilities from sealed or unsurfaced runways. The RAAF currently has 12 of these Aircraft based at RAAF base Richmond NSW.
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 sealed or unsurfaced runways as short as 3500 feet. It has a cruise speed of 830 km/h a range of 10,390 km (no payload) and can carry up to 77 tonnes. The RAAF currently has 8 of these Aircraft based at RAAF Base Amberley QLD.