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July 19, 2012
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Image Australian Department of Defence
Eamon Hamilton and
CAPT Bill Heck
ANOTHER chapter has been written in
38SQN's history of operating in Papua
New Guinea (PNG).
From June 23 to July 6, Papua New
Guineans went to the polls for their
national election -- an event partly
made possible by 38SQN King Airs
flying electoral officials and staff
with Combined Joint Task Force 630
The King Airs were joined by
37SQN C-130s, Australian Army
Black Hawks and Royal New Zealand
Air Force Iroquois.
For 38SQN, it was the first major
deployment to PNG since the retire-
ment of the Caribou in 2009.
FLTLT Matthew Sullivan was part
of the 38SQN workforce who transi-
tioned from the Caribou to the King
Air, and has experienced PNG in both
"Due to the geography of PNG,
it's just about impossible to travel any
great distance by vehicle, so any time
there is a group of eight or less people
needing to get somewhere, we are the
ones who take them," FLTLT Sullivan
said.The first King Air arrived in coun-
try on May 20 and a second came on
June 5, although 38SQN had intermit-
tently played a role in preparations as
early as March.
"At any given time we have had two
maintainers, four pilots, and a detach-
ment commander," FLTLT Sullivan
"The detachment commander does
all the liaising, while the pilots get to
have all the fun of flying.
"The fact that King Airs are so
much faster means the country feels a
"We can go from Port Moresby to
Wewak and back in a day quite eas-
ily, which means much less time away
from Port Moresby, which is an opera-
Despite the all-seating layout of the
King Air, they were used to carry elec-
toral papers and ballot boxes, and even
condoms as part of an AusAid HIV
and AIDS awareness program in the
Meanwhile, more than 1200 police,
500 soldiers and 170 metric tonnes of
stores and election material were flown
around the country by the C-130s.
The Commander of the Combined
Joint Task Force, COL Andrew
MacNab, said the performance of the
C-130s had been fantastic.
"Whenever I speak to the Royal
PNG Constabulary or the PNG
Defence Force they become effusive
in their praise for what these aircraft
Triumphant PNG return
Faster King Airs pick up where Caribous left off as ADF lends a hand in national elections
of the PNG
Photo: PO Phil
NOW AND THEN: Election officials
and materials are moved out to
remote polling locations by 38SQN
King Air, and above inset, a
squadron Caribou in PNG in 2007.
Main photo: CPL Brad Hanson
NOW AND THEN
have been able to do for them," COL
Air Force air planner FLTLT Glen
Nelson, of 285SQN at RAAF Base
Richmond, said the C-130s were able
to be responsive to the needs of the
"We were able to adapt to chang-
es in tasking and carry freight far in
excess of what was originally planned
for this operation," FLTLT Nelson said.
"This is most likely the last opera-
tion the C-130H will support before its
retirement so it is a little bit special for
us as well."
COL MacNab said during the 2007
election the security forces moved to
the Highlands by commercial air.
"Commercial air proved expensive,
difficult to book and severely limited
the amount of stores the security forces
could take with them," COL MaNab
"We provided them, through the
C-130, with a degree of speed, mass
and economy so they could effectively
concentrate prior to the commence-
ment of their operation."
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