The Army says its new CH-47F Chinook has “excelled” during its first overseas deployment, which has seen three ‘Foxtrot’ model heavylift helicopters deploy to Papua New Guinea to provide disaster relief flights in the wake of a magnitude-7.5 earthquake late last month.
The quake, which struck PNG’s Highlands region on February 26, affected up to 140,000 people as roads were cut, leaving villages isolated and running low on food, fuels, water and medicine. As part of the Australian Government’s disaster relief response the RAAF deployed a C-130J Hercules and King Aircraft 350 aircraft to PNG, with the Army sending the three Chinook helicopters under ‘Task Group Brahman’.
“We got the notice on Monday night [March 8] to assist the government of PNG and on Tuesday conducted pre-deployment admin, planning, preparation and packing of the aircraft,” MAJ Patrick Schadel, Officer Commanding C Squadron, 5 Avn Regt, said last week. “On Wednesday morning [March 10] we jumped in the aircraft in Townsville, flew up to Horn Island and then into Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands of PNG the following day.
“So in the space of three days we had received our order to go, and self-deployed nearly 1,000 nautical miles to Mount Hagen with our aircraft fully ready to commence operations,” he added.
Almost immediately the three CH-47Fs were pressed into service as part of JTF 635.1, delivering emergency supplies to remote villages as part of Operation PNG Assist 2018.
“The Chinook is perfect for operations such as Op PNG Assist because of its power,” said 5AVN crewman SGT Craig Hartnett. “It’s performance in the high altitude regions of PNG and its volume of cargo carrying space – it’s the ideal aircraft for this type of work.”