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AIR FORCE September 3, 2009
ADF has completed its mission
to support search and recovery
operations in Papua New Guinea
following a civil aircraft crash on
August 11 with the repatriation of
the nine Australians who died.
ADF's search and recovery oper-
ation was managed through the PNG
Rescue Coordination Centre with a
number of Australian agencies pro-
viding support to the task.
Following a request from the
Government of PNG, ADF assets
from all three services deployed in
support of the operation.
After the crash site was found,
the ADF concentrated on supporting
the Australian Federal Police (AFP)
Disaster Victim Identification (DVI)
team and PNG authorities working
at the crash site, and on the recovery
of the victims.
Commander Joint Task Force 666
-- Operation Kokoda Assist -- WGCDR
David Howard said it was unfortunate
that the mission was a recovery opera-
tion rather than a rescue mission.
Work on cutting a helicopter
landing pad close to the crash site,
to allow helicopters to get into the
area, began quickly.
Once the helicopter pad was pre-
pared, AFP's DVI team deployed
to the site where they assisted PNG
authorities in the complicated task
of recovering the remains of those
who died in the Airlines PNG crash.
ADF, AFP, PNG Defence Forces
and other PNG authorities worked
tirelessly for five days to recover
the victims of the accident from the
crash site to Port Moresby and, later,
to recover critical aircraft compo-
nents for closer examination.
By combining the ability of the
Air Force Caribou transport to oper-
ate into rudimentary landing strips
and the Army Black Hawk helicop-
ter's vertical-lift capability, the ADF
was able to provide essential trans-
port of people, food, water, and sup-
plies to the inhospitable site.
WGCDR Tony Thorpe, 38SQN,
said the mission was well within the
scope of the Caribou.
"It's exactly what we do. We
train here regularly for just this sort
of operation," WGCDR Thorpe said.
"Our training provides us great
experience working in difficult ter-
rain and weather -- and these types
of airstrips are exactly what the
Caribou was designed for.
"We've delivered fuel, water,
food and personnel to the airfield
itself and the Black Hawks have
then lifted them to the crash site.
"It's been a hand-in-hand opera-
tion and it worked perfectly."
Air Load Team
from 1 Airfield
move one of
caskets on to
a C-130J at
for home, with
the remains of
CPL Chris Moore
Air Force plays part
after Kokoda tragedy
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