RAAF Spartan begins work helping PNG election

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2 Operation Kimba Contingent Commander Wing Commander Michael Rouhan right speaks with Superintendent Steven Francis from the Royal PNG Constabulary. Corporal Jonathan Goedhart
Operation Kimba Contingent Commander Wing Commander Michael Rouhan, right, speaks with Superintendent Steven Francis from the Royal PNG Constabulary. (Corporal Jonathan Goedhart)

A RAAF C-27J Spartan has carried 20 members of Papua New Guinea’s police force to help the nation prepare for their national election.

The flight marks the start of the ADF’s assistance to the country, which will involve one Hercules and two Spartans.

The aircraft are ideally suited to the mountainous terrain and tropical runways located across PNG.

RPNGC Superintendent Steven Francis, second-in-charge of planning for the national poll, said the first Spartan flight represented six weeks of meticulous planning by the PNG Joint Security Task Force and ADF logistics teams.

“For the planning team, it is a relief to see this first flight take off as it gives us the confidence that what we are doing with our counterparts in the ADF and the Joint Security Task Force will be successful,” Superintendent Francis said.

“Air movements have been one of our biggest challenges, making sure our personnel can move in time to oversee the operation, so it has been truly valuable assistance provided by the ADF.”

The flight will be the first of many across PNG in the lead-up to the election next month.

In addition to RPNGC personnel, the ADF will enable movements of the PNG Electoral Commission and other elements of the Joint Security Task Force, including the Correctional Services and the PNG Defence Force.

Operation Kimba contingent commander Wing Commander Michael Rouhan said the C-27J aircraft was particularly suited for operations in PNG.

“These aircraft allow us to get into some marginal airfields, particularly the shorter airfields up in the highlands. So they’re a natural fit for this style of operation,” Wing Commander Rouhan said.

“In addition, RAAF 35 Squadron is a sister unit to the PNG Defence Force Air Transport Wing here in Port Moresby and there’s some very close relationships among the teams that aid in achieving the mission outcome.”

Operated by No. 35 Squadron from RAAF Base Amberly, the C-27J’s capabilities focus on regional peacetime operations including search and rescue, aeromedical operations, and airlift tasks such as troop movement, cargo transport, and airdrop operations.

Read our full profile on the aircraft here.

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