Royal Australian Air Force’s first Boeing C-17 makes operational debut for Excercise Red Flag

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Australia’s newly delivered Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport is to conduct its first operational mission this week, with the platform to fly equipment to the USA to support Royal Australian Air Force participation in the multinational Exercise Red Flag 2007.

To take place at Nellis AFB in Nevada from 5 February, the Red Flag manoeuvres will involve six General Dynamics F-111 strike aircraft from the RAAF’s Amberley airbase in Queensland, which is also home to the service’s first of four 36 Sqn-operated C-17s.

© Australian DoD 

© US Air Force

Delivered last December, the C-17 – A41-206 – will carry support equipment and spare parts for the F-111s on its first mission, and will return to the USA late this month to collect the equipment. Additional parts and personnel are being flown to Nellis using two Lockheed Martin C-130H transports from Richmond airbase in New South Wales. The first of these departed Australia yesterday with the F-111s at the start of a three-day transit via Hawaii.

“The C-17’s long-haul flight in support of Exercise Red Flag will be an early demonstration of the aircraft’s important role in [the Australian Department of] Defence’s developing responsive global airlift capability,” says air force chief Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd.

The RAAF’s first C-17 will be followed by a second example by mid-year, when the service also expects to complete the type’s transition into regular operational service.