Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 8 2009 Contents 33
THe future of how Defence flies to
its destinations promises massive
change in fleet and format.
Developing a picture of this future was a
hot topic for the Air Mobility Symposium, held at
Australian Defence College from October 7-9.
The event brought more than 80 delegates
from what can be defined as Defence’s air mobility
community – centred on Air Force’s Air Lift Group,
as well as Air Force Headquarters, Air Lift Systems
Program Office, and industry.
Also attending were representatives of Joint
Operations Command, Army, Special Operations
Command and other arms of Air Force.
Air Lift Group is made up of seven units and
a number of different aircraft types, with its roles
including airborne logistics support, air-to-air
refuelling, air-land and air-drop, and support to
It has been the centre of Australia’s response
to disasters in Samoa and Sumatra, and provides
an airlift backbone to the Middle East Area of
Deputy Chief of Joint Operations Command, Air
Vice Marshal (AVM) Greg Evans, gave the opening
address to the symposium. A former Commander Air
Lift Group and Hercules pilot, AVM Evans said air lift
remained the centre of gravity for the MEAO.
While the pace of operations promised
to endure, AVM Evans told attendees, “It’s a
marvellous time to be serving our country, and you
are the people who are going to be needed”.
Initiated by Commander Air Lift Group, Air
Commodore (AIRCDRE) John Oddie, the symposium
opened the floor to Australia’s air mobility
community to discuss the challenges facing the
group now and in future.
This includes changing aircraft, roles, and the
emergence of the Strategic Reform Program (SRP).
“We provide a key service to the Australian
Defence Force through air mobility, and this
symposium was aimed at developing air mobility
services to our customers, with the key support of
our industry partners,” AIRCDRE Oddie said.
“We aim to underpin our capability commitments
with better understanding of productivity and
sustainability issues, resolved through a Defence and
Industry Air Mobility community.
“For more than 10 years we have been operating
at a consistently busy pace, delivering short-notice
and long-term sustained effects, but our costs have
increased and there are substantial opportunities to
improve productivity,” AIRCDRE Oddie said.
The prospect of new platforms such as the
C-17A, KC-30A, and Battlefield Airlifter will change
Australia’s air mobility model – which has largely
centred on the C-130 Hercules since the aircraft’s
introduction in 1958.
“We don’t want to see new platforms viewed
as simple replacements for earlier types, when
some can fly twice as far, or carry three times the
payload and others might deliver new methods for
traditional effects,” AIRCDRE Oddie said.
The Hercules promises to be an enduring part
of ALG’s fleet, however the Symposium stressed a
need to shift to effects-driven thinking, rather than
“We all need to understand the impact of
getting an aircraft such as a C-17A or KC-30A
versus whether required effects can be met by
a C-130J, a Battlefield Airlifter or some other
integrated effect. We also need to work through
how air mobility fits with emerging forms of sea
and land mobility.”
Time at the Symposium was given to
customers such as Special Operations Command,
Air Force’s Air Combat Group, and Army’s 3
Brigade, to voice their core needs of air lift and
Similarly, elements such as, Defence
National Storage and Distribution Centre or Joint
Movements Group, spoke at the symposium on
their respective challenges and historical outcomes
in working with the air lift community.
“The Symposium allows us the chance to
assess our relationship, and determine where
it has worked or failed through the period, to
understand customer needs and to discuss future
opportunities,” AIRCDRE Oddie said.
The SRP is being viewed as the catalyst
for ensuring ALG can be sustainable, creating a
more efficient structure to the group to allow it to
operate at the current tempo.
Doing this requires careful cooperation with
other elements such as Air Force’s Combat Support
Group, or Defence Support Group, who were both
given space to speak at the symposium about their
respective plans forward with the SRP.
Air Mobility symposium
charts the course
display screens allowed us to simulate real work
practices and helped us to identify areas of
maintenance that we would have to look at when
we got home,” Corporal Hayden said.
“Also, having large sections of aircraft to
work on under controlled conditions was a great
way to familiarise ourselves with the aircraft
before jumping in the deep end with the US Navy
maintenance team on the flight line.”
Squadron Leader Hoadley said the first team of
maintenance personnel has now consolidated its
training through significant exposure to the aircraft.
“This gives me every confidence in our ability
to operate and maintain the Australian Super
Hornets,” he said.
The No.1 Squadron personnel who are now
back in Australia are developing and refining
procedures to support technical and operational
Wing Commander Braz said the immediate
challenges are refining logistics, setting up
facilities and integrating all aspects of the work to
form an effective capability.
“The training and support we have received
from the USN has been outstanding,” Wing
Commander Braz said. “I’m really looking forward
to returning to Lemoore next year to bring our first
defence magazine ›
By Flight Lieutenant Eamon Hamilton
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