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May 24, 2012
Eamon Hamilton and
CAPT Kris Gardiner
OF ALL the loads to be flown by a
C-17A, few are heavier than an M1A1
On May 11, Army and Air Force
joined to load a 61-tonne Abrams on
board a C-17A at RAAF Base Darwin,
and flew it to Williamson Airfield in the
Shoalwater Bay Field Training Area.
It was the first time the tank has
been airlifted in Australia, providing
vital experience for Army and Air Force
personnel and emphasising a key strate-
gic capability for Defence.
Despite the size and robustness of
tank and aircraft, crews managed the
task with careful precision.
The tank from the 1st Armoured
Regiment was carefully driven up the
cargo ramp and restrained to the cargo
floor, allowing the aircraft to remain
balanced in flight.
The Commander of the Darwin-
based 1st Brigade, BRIG Gus
McLachlan, said the airlift demonstrat-
ed the high level of interoperability now
available between the branches of the
Australian Defence Force.
"It demonstrates the great capability
now afforded to the ADF and shows the
Australian public that we have the abil-
ity to deliver our forces, if needed, with
relative ease to any place we need them
to be," he said.
Commander Air Lift Group
AIRCDRE Gary Martin said the
Abrams was one of the heaviest single
loads that could be carried on board the
"At 61 tonnes, the Abrams comes
close to the total payload capacity of
70 tonnes for the C-17A," AIRCDRE
"Loading an Abrams on board
a C-17A is a careful task requiring
a steady hand and close cooperation
between the driver and loadmaster to
ensure no damage to vehicle or aircraft."
After the C-17A touched down at
Williamson Airfield, the Abrams was
quickly unloaded and then joined the
rest of 1st Brigade to begin a series of
exercises, which will culminate with
Exercise Hamel 2012 mid-year.
GOTTA FLY, TANKS: An Abrams tank was transported on a C-17A from RAAF Base Darwin to Shoalwater Bay Field Training Area where it joined
exercises. Right, the tank disappears into the giant belly during loading. Bottom left, LAC Steven Kennett chains the tank to the cargo deck of the
Globemaster in Darwin. Top left, the loaded-up aircraft is on its way.
Photos: LS Helen Frank
Hamid Karzai has announced
Uruzgan is among the next
provinces to begin the transi-
tion to Afghan-led security
responsibility from the middle
of the year.
When the latest transi-
tions are complete, more than
75 per cent of Afghanistan's
population will live in areas
under Afghan-led security.
The Mentoring Task Force
and Special Operations Task
Group will support Afghan
National Security Forces as
they progressively take the
lead for security in Uruzgan
throughout the transition.
The transition process can
take 12-18 months, which
will keep Australia on track to
meet its 2014 or earlier tran-
Defence Minister Stephen
Smith said the Government
would consider providing
for Afghan National Security
Forces after transition.
"We're prepared to con-
template an ongoing pres-
ence of advisers, of trainers,
and also Special Forces, but
that presence would be very
substantially less than our
current, on average 1550
[member] component, which
is made up by a large major-
ity of our current mentors
and trainers," Mr Smith said.
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