Australian Operation Pacific Assist 2015
Australian humanitarian assistance continues to flow into the most heavily affected areas by Cyclone Pam of Vanuatu. More than 500 ADF personnel are deployed as part of Operation Pacific Assist 2015
Australia Dept.Defence, March 30, 2015 - Australian humanitarian assistance continues to flow into the most heavily affected areas of Vanuatu. More than 500 ADF personnel are deployed as part of Operation Pacific Assist 2015.
The remote islands of Erromango, Tanna and Ambrym Islands are now receiving vital aid, supplies and post-disaster engineering assistance from the Australian Defence Force personnel assigned to Joint Task Force 665.
Black Hawks on station in Vanuatu
Two Australian Army S-70 Black Hawk’s arrived in Vanuatu and were unloaded from a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17A Globemaster III during the late hours of Friday 20 March, 2015.
Assembled by ground crews the next day, the aircraft were technically prepared and commenced their first flight as part of Operation PACIFIC ASSIST 2015.
Aircraft technicians and avionic technicians which bring electrical and mechanical trades to Army aviation have been critical in the arrival and preparation of the two Black Hawk’s.
Avionic technician, Corporal James Coy knows exactly what is required to prepare a Black Hawk for flight.
“We need to unfold the head or rotors, unfold the tail and make sure technical inspections are carried out,” Corporal Coy said.
“It takes approximately 3 hours to unload both Black Hawk’s from the RAAF C-17A Globemaster III and then 6 to 10 hours to prepare them for flight.”
Black Hawk pilot, Captain Nick Pound, is one of a small team eager to commence flying in support of the Australian Defence Forces assistance to the Vanuatu Government.
“We have all the pilots, loadmasters that form the aircrew for the aircraft,” Captain Pound said.
Behind them, we have all the maintainers that are absolutely essential, as we can not fly without them.”
The Black Hawk is a multi-role helicopter ideally suited to its primary role of providing air mobility for personnel and equipment.
Black Hawk’s can also carry out aerial reconnaissance, observation, casualty evacuation and will play a vital role in supporting the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) mission in Vanuatu.
“We have the ability to land in a tight spot, we don’t need a run way,” Captain Pound said.
“We can easily fly straight down to the south islands without having to prove a surface to land.”
“Ultimately, we can land where no one else can and provide a level of flexibility that no other air craft can.”
The S-70 Black Hawk will play a significant role in Operation PACIFIC ASSIST 2015 providing humanitarian aid and reconnaissance to some of the more remote islands in Vanuatu.
HMAS Tobruk arrives to support Vanuatu mission
HMAS Tobruk has arrived in Port Vila to assist the Vanuatu government in relief operations to repair damage in the wake of the devastating tropical cyclone Pam.
HMAS Tobruk, with 335 personnel on board, sailed from Townsville on 18 March with troops and equipment from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment and additional Australian Aid supplies.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has delivered 128 pallets of cargo to Vanuatu since the start of Operation Pacific Assist, including tools and equipment to repair homes, water purification and storage systems, temporary shelters as well as health and hygiene products.
Approximately 78 ADF personnel are already on the ground in Vanuatu. Saturday’s arrival of two Army S-70 Blackhawk helicopters, and now the arrival of a Navy MRH90 Taipan helicopter embarked on HMAS Tobruk, will provide air mobility to isolated areas.
The ship has also embarked specialist Navy capabilities for this mission including a Mobile Meteorological and Deployed Geospatial Survey Team.
HMAS Tobruk’s capabilities allow the ADF reach many island communities through delivery of supplies, equipment and reconstruction teams by landing craft, helicopter and crane.
A key strategic role for the ADF is to assist our regional partners in times of crisis. Our thoughts are with those who are suffering as a result of this cyclone.
Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawk A25-101 A25-110 ( Australian Army Aviation )
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Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawk in Australian Army Aviation
NH Industries MRH90 Taipan in Fleet Air Arm (RAN)
HMAS Tobruk ( L50, Modified Round Table class )