The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has dispatched its two largest aircraft — C-17A Globemaster III transport and KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport — to the United States for Exercise Mobility Guardian 17.
Held in Washington State from 30 July to 12 August 2017, Mobility Guardian 17 is conducted by the US Air Force (USAF) and involves the rehearsal of key air mobility roles including air-to-air refuelling from the KC-30A and aerial delivery of cargo to a drop zone by the C-17A.
RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland will provide most of the 120 deployed personnel who will join 1,700 USAF members along with 330 personnel from other nations.
Commanding Officer No. 36 Squadron, Wing Commander Peter Thompson, who is leading the Australian element, said RAAF has never practiced air mobility missions on the same scale as Mobility Guardian 17. Having introduced the C-17A and KC-30A to service during the last decade, the RAAF will bring a wealth of experience to the Exercise.
“Mobility Guardian 17 will involve participants delivering a ‘first stage’ response to a contingency event that has taken place within a contested environment,” Wing Commander Thompson explained. “Our role is to work with international partners to deliver that first stage response, and then sustain those forces within that environment, responding to their needs as the scenario develops. Air mobility is a critical part of how modern defence forces maintain logistical links, whilst it is often used operationally; it is seldom exercised on a large scale.
“Coming to Mobility Guardian 17 allows us to leverage the training opportunities developed by the USAF’s Air Mobility Command, which are unmatched in their scale or complexity,” Wing Commander Thompson continued. “At the same time, we’re able to demonstrate what our crews are capable of delivering, so we can better work with international partners in future situations. The RAAF contingent will be integrated into a group of 57 airlift and air-to-air refuelling aircraft during the exercise, the majority of which will fly two missions per day.”
Working alongside RAAF’s KC-30A and C-17A are the USAF’s C-5M Galaxy transport, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers; and the Royal Air Force’s A400M Atlas turboprop.