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NZDF Team doing 'Hard Yards' in the Middle East

The C-130 Air Loadmaster and a member of the Air Movements Load Team from the Royal Australian Air Force finalise details of a load on the Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft. Picture: ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
The C-130 Air Loadmaster and a member of the Air Movements Load Team from the Royal Australian Air Force finalise details of a load on the Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Picture courtesy of the ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE

28 August 2016

A 34-strong air transport team deployed by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to support Coalition operations in the Middle East is doing hard yards in extremely demanding conditions.

“Our team has been performing very well in hot and dusty conditions. They manage a high operational tempo, flying about 85 hours per month. They also have to contend with air temperatures in the mid-40s, with the metallic surfaces of equipment well above that,” said the NZDF’s Air Component Commander, Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Darryn Webb, who has just visited the team.

As of 22 August, a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and the detachment had clocked over 200 flying hours on 32 missions to Iraq and Afghanistan since they deployed to the Middle East in early June. Night vision goggles have been used on some flights.

The NZDF air transport team has been operating as part of an Australian Defence Force (ADF) air mobility task group transporting freight and personnel in support of New Zealand, Australian and Coalition operations in the region.

“They have provided much needed strategic air support to Coalition operations. And their performance has been outstanding, given the tough conditions they have to operate in,” AIRCDRE Webb said.

“The team has flown every single mission assigned to them by the ADF Joint Task Force. Their rate of effort of about 85 flying hours per month is around double that of a similar aircraft in the fleet conducting military air operations throughout New Zealand and overseas. I am very proud of their achievements.”

The NZDF contingent includes aircraft technicians, logistics specialists, maintenance personnel, and an Air Movements Load Team that is working as part of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Air Movements Unit supporting Coalition aircraft in the region.

“Working with the RAAF means handling a diverse range of tasks. My role varies from loading and unloading different aircraft, building cargo loads, processing passenger movements, marshalling heavy vehicles and facilitating VIP movements in and out of theatre,” a member of the Air Movements Load Team said.

“It’s a challenging work environment. The temperatures exceed 45 degrees Celsius here and it is both physically and mentally demanding at times, especially when we are wearing body armour,” the C-130 Air Loadmaster said.

He said that working as part of a Coalition force meant “we have to learn, adapt and incorporate foreign processes and procedures into our own and make it all work as harmoniously as possible”.

The NZDF contingent’s deployment is for six months, until December 2016.

 

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