The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) sixth and final Boeing C-17 strategic transport has been formally welcomed at Amberley air base in Queensland.

 RAAF C-17s - Commonwealth of Australia

Commonwealth of Australia

The aircraft joined three other C-17s in a flypast over Brisbane and the Gold Coast to celebrate the occasion, says Australia's Department of Defence.

To highlight the aircraft's capabilities, each aircraft carried a different cargo. Loads included an M1 Abrams tank, two Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters, a specialist medical team and four Bushmaster armoured vehicles.

As with the RAAF's previous C-17s, the sixth was acquired through the USA's Foreign Military Sales mechanism. The deal for the last aircraft, signed in March, was valued at A$280 million ($291 million). The aircraft was originally expected in 2013, but the US government was willing to redirect an aircraft that was being produced for the US Air Force.

"The acquisition of a fifth and sixth C-17 effectively doubles the number of C-17 aircraft available for operations at any one time from two to four," says the DoD. "The additional aircraft gives the government increased options to support the wide range of contingencies that might require heavy-lift aircraft and will extend the life of the C-17 fleet by reducing the use of each aircraft."

Source: Flight International