Giants of sky hit local airspace

Photos: JESSICA LONG

SHOALHAVEN air space has played host to some extremely large visitors in the past few days with three RAAF C-17 transport aircraft landing at HMAS Albatross.

The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transporters are being used to transport three HMAS Albatross seahawk helicopters and 83 personnel from 816 Squadron to Western Australia. 

Once in WA they will spend two weeks taking part in an anti-submarine exercise titled Operation TAMEX.

The C-17s are considered the giants of the sky. At 53 metres long with a wingspan of 52 metres and powered by four Pratt and Whitney turbofan engines, they can carry a maximum payload of 77,500kg.

TAMEX is an annual exercise for training personnel in the use of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in anti-submarine warfare skills, which is the Nowra based squadron’s primary role.

The Seahawk’s navigation, communication and sensor suites make it a formidable maritime combat helicopter in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare roles.

The local squadron will be joined by two RAAF P3C Orion aircraft and one United States P8 Poseidon aircraft in the exercises along with the Collins Class submarine, HMAS Sheehan.

Commanding officer of 816 Squadron, Commander Marc Pavillard said the exercise was an opportunity to hone and refine core fighting skills.

“The exercise will see crews undertaking surveillance and locating operations as well as conducting attacking raids on the submarine,” he said.

“We can train through a combination of the simulator and also anti-submarine training against a target in the water but you can’t beat training against a real submarine, especially one as advanced as Sheehan.

“It doesn’t get any better than that and working with the air force and the US Navy P8 just adds another dimension.”

The exercises will include daylight and night flying, with the local crews also undertaking a number of torpedo firings against targets.

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