US Air Force delivers helicopters, bolsters Australian alliance

  • Published
  • By Roland Balik
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As part of the U.S. Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales program, 9th Airlift Squadron aircrew from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware transports two CH-47F Chinook helicopters aboard a C-5M Super Galaxy from Dover AFB to Royal Australian Air Force Base Townsville, Australia in early July, further reinforcing the alliance between the two countries.

The sale and delivery of these two Chinooks, approved by the U.S. State Department, was a team effort between the governments of Australia and the U.S., as well as industry partners.

Boeing Defence Australia (BDA), the Australian Department of Defence Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group and the U.S. Air Force’s 436th Aerial Port Squadron foreign military sales program office participated in the effort.

“The U.S.-Australia alliance … has been an anchor for peace, security and stability in the Indo-Pacific for decades,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a recent address. “We find strength not only in how vital and dependable the relationship has been, but also in how it has continued to evolve to meet the challenges we face and that our citizens face.”

U.S. Army pilots flew the helicopters from Boeing’s helicopter plant in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania to Dover AFB in early June, to begin preparation for the flight to RAAF Base Townsville. An Australia Defence Force representative at Dover AFB, along with six BDA maintenance team members started breaking down the first Chinook within an hour.

From June 8-19, BDA maintenance team personnel unfastened panels to access the forward and rear rotor transmission components, along with removing six rotor blades and various other components and equipment necessary to load the helicopters into the Super Galaxy. Throughout the entire process, the BDA team worked with members of the 436th APS, continuing a relationship that began more than five years ago.

“As Australia experienced during previous Australian Chinook aircraft acceptance activities, the 436th Aerial Port, and its team, were both proactive in their understanding of our FMS and country-specific requirements, as well as enthusiastically supportive in their key roles, thus enabling the success of those missions,” said Rachael Taylor, Australian Department of Defence Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group representative. “From an Australian Chinook capability perspective, Team Dover is seen as the ‘place to go’ to receive the outstanding support, as well as the resources required to support Australian Chinook acquisition and delivery provisions.”

Upon arriving in Australia, the 9th AS aircrew quickly unloaded the two Chinooks, which will be assigned to the Australian Army.

“Our unshakeable alliance with Australia is enabled by Airmen and their personal connections with members of the Australian Defence Force,” said Col. Aaron Brooks, Indo-Pacific division chief for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs. “Execution of the foreign military sales program is just the latest example of how Airmen continue to deepen interoperability and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific alongside our allies.”

Future Chinook missions between the two countries are scheduled for Spring 2022.