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November 21, 2013
CAPT Chris Rickey
THE last Army CH-47 Chinook
helicopter has left the Middle
East Area of Operations aboard a
The aircraft, designated
A15-201, enjoyed a long and distin-
guished operational career
The Chinook, nicknamed
"Rough and Ready", was flown
home in style. With its main rotors
and pylons removed, it was loaded
snugly inside the cargo compartment
of the C-17A for the second leg of
its journey home.
From Al Minhad Air Base in
the United Arab Emirates it was
flown seven hours to RAAF Base
Butterworth in Malaysia. It was
unloaded and then reloaded onto
another C-17A for the final passage
back to Townsville and its home at
the 5th Aviation Regiment.
The loading procedure at AMAB
took place under the watchful eye
of Air Component Commander
GPCAPT Tony McCormack, who
explained Air Force's role in
returning the aircraft home.
"This is another indication of
how critical airlift has been for
Australian operations over here,"
GPCAPT McCormack said.
"The C-17A -- what else could
move so much, so far, so fast?"
Rotary Wing Group 8 departed
Afghanistan early in September,
after operating two Chinooks out of
Kandahar Airfield for four months.
It was at that point the hard work
began for the Force Extraction
Team, which was tasked with
conducting deep maintenance work
on both aircraft, then disassembling
them for transportation back to
MAJ Tony Veness managed
the joint civilian/military mainte-
nance team and said WO2 Bradley
Grant, SGT Bob Godfrey and SGT
Christopher Payne were instrumen-
tal in having both aircraft ready for
extraction in 35 days.
"While the whole team has been
outstanding, contractors and military
alike, they are the reason this dif-
ficult tasking has been a success,"
Along the way the challenges
were many and varied, not the least
of which was the indirect fire threat
at Kandahar Airfield.
"They were extremely difficult
environmental and operational
conditions but the job is done and
we can expect to have the 'Chooks'
back up and ready for taskings in
Australia by the end of November,"
MAJ Veness said.
The Chinook A15-201 will
shortly be retired from service and
has been requested by the Australian
War Memorial to form part of a
Chinooks hitch a ride
CAPT Chris Rickey
WHEN it comes to versatility and
sheer muscle, few aircraft come close
to the C-17A Globemaster.
The aircraft and their crews are cur-
rently pushing into Afghanistan and
other locations within the area of opera-
tions. Their mission is twofold: to pro-
vide ongoing sustainment for deployed
personnel and assist in the remedia-
tion and redeployment of equipment
as Australia's mission in Afghanistan
undergoes significant change.
There will be no slowing down
for the C-17A crews, according to
Detachment Commander WGCDR Peter
"As we get further into the operation,
the crews will get busier," he said.
"We have come over with the abil-
ity to provide a constant rate of effort,
with surge periods of 24-hour operations
should the situation require."
Three Bushmasters were loaded
on board for a recent three-hour flight
from Multinational Base Tarin Kot to Al
Minhad Air Base, which is home to the
"The payload on this day was just
over 90,000lbs," WGCDR Thompson
"The aircraft is capable of carrying
just over 160,000lbs of cargo, although
that is dependent on a number of fac-
tors which effect aircraft performance.
On this day, given the high temperatures
and the fuel required for the flight, the
aircraft departed close to the allowable
Despite Australia's involvement in
Afghanistan shifting from operations
and mentoring to a role to train, advise
and assist, it is predicted that in 2014
C-17As will remain an ongoing fixture
in the skies over the Middle East and
closer to home.
"The Globemaster crews will
continue to support operations in
the MEAO into 2014, although most
likely not in a deployed model as we
currently have," WGCDR Thompson
"This will mean the aircraft and
crews will also be able to support
other operations that inevitably occur,
such as humanitarian assistance."
C-17As continue to
push into Afghanistan
JOB'S NOT OVER: FLTLT Leigh
Matthews at the front of a C-17A
Globemaster after landing at
Multinational Base Tarin Kot. Below, a
Bushmaster approaches a C-17A prior
to loading, and a Chinook is loaded onto
a C-17A for its flight home to Australia.
Photos: PO Phil Cullinan and CPL Mark Doran
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