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Australian Defence Force
PROMOTING MILITARY JUSTICE
April 15, 2010
LAC Aaron Curran
AIR FORCE assets are finally together
on the ground in the Middle East after
the move of the C-130 Detachment to
the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was
completed in December.
The AP-3C Orion Detachment has
been at an airbase in the UAE since
2003 and after a few months of transi-
tion, the C-130s are now in place and
continuing their excellent record of
Due to their completely different
roles -- C-130s are tactical airlift; the
Orions are Intelligence Surveillance
and Reconnaissance (ISR) -- they
do not rely on each other for opera-
Where they do meet is at the coal
face -- the maintainers and their equip-
ment on the ground.
AP-3C Shift Boss B Spider
Maintenance FSGT Neil Pinker said
the extra equipment brought by the
C-130 maintainers was a bonus for his
"The key points are commonality
with their Ground Support Equipment
(GSE)," he said.
"We now have a greater stockpile
to choose from and versatility in the
use of GSE. If either of us needs a
particular piece we can source it from
One area FGST Pinker said that
they can look at in the future is air-
craft structural fitters, or metal bashers
as they are commonly known.
"One thing we are looking at is our
metal basher capability," he said.
"The Orions have one on each
shift, whereas the Hercs have one
covering three shifts; maybe we can
have a central metal bashing shop
Deputy Australian Air Component
Commander in the MEAO, WGCDR
John Young, said the logistics advan-
tages cannot be understated.
"We have consolidated our efforts
and removed duplication by having
the two detachments here," he said.
"Instead of Air Force assets being
scattered around the MEAO, we have
everything here. Having a bigger air
component footprint in this location is
good for us."
He said it was not an easy job
moving the C-130s to the UAE, but
when they started to arrive, the base
was well and truly ready to receive
them. "Everyone now operates in a
common location," WGCDR Young
said. "So if you need to know some-
thing you can literally just walk down
One of the challenges
faced by the co-location of
the Orions and Hercs is space.
There is limited space cur-
rently on offer at the airbase.
Australian, coalition part-
ners and contractors all use
the runway and many airfield
Ramp space is tight. "The
last Herc can sometimes block
access to the new hangar,"
FSGT Pinker said.
"They don't work the
same times as us, so we have to ring
them up to ask them to move their
aircraft. If you move one, usually you
have to move them all. It's like hav-
ing to move the Cortina to move the
Kingswood to get the Torana. But we
work around it to get the job done."
WGCDR Young agreed that the
space is an issue and at the start it was
a little dysfunctional.
"We operate on a very, busy piece
of ground with coalition aircraft and
our own," he said.
"But we have a positive working
relationship with them and that makes
He said even with that issue, they
all have a common aim -- to get air-
craft in the air and back safely, and on
time. "The Orions are the great unsung
achievers," WGCDR Young said.
"They may fly for 10 hours, and
what they do in those 10 hours is quite
In relation to the C-130s, he said
with only three aircraft in theatre, the
level of cargo they move is dispropor-
"They are very efficient at what
they do," he said. "Our Orions and
Hercs are all doing great work and not
"We have the foundations of a very
functional airbase here -- it is not there
yet, but it's very close."
them and that
makes things work
-- WGCDR John Young
SHARING AND CARING: FSGT Neil
Pinker, left, the AP-3C Shift Boss B
Spider Maintenance, and FSGT Gavin
Nott, the maintenance coordinator for
the C-130 Detachment, on the flightline
in the UAE.
Photo: LAC Aaron Curran
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