RAAF deploys Hercules to Guam for Christmas airdrop mission

A United States Air Force C-130H Hercules from the 36th Airlift Squadron taxies past a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base during Operation Christmas Drop 16.
File image of a US Air Force C-130H and a RAAF C-130J on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base. (Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has deployed a C-130J Hercules tactical airlifter and crew to Guam for the 66th iteration of Operation Christmas Drop.

Set to run until December 15, the activity is the world’s longest-running humanitarian airdrop exercise, providing aid to remote communities across the Pacific, Defence stated on December 7.

This year marks the third consecutive time that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has sent a C-130J and crew to participate and work alongside counterparts from the US and Japan.

“Operation Christmas Drop provides support to more than 20,000 people in remote communities spread over six million square kilometres,” said Air Commodore Richard Lennon, Commander Air Mobility Group.

“The crews participating in the drop have to plan and execute missions under challenging circumstances and deliver to unfamiliar drop zones. Each container we deliver can weigh up to 200kg and must be delivered with precision so that it can be safely recovered by these communities.

“Many of these communities have little physical contact with the outside world, and airdrop is an excellent means of delivering supplies when there is no other quick alternative, either due to the distances involved or lack of available infrastructure.”

A cardboard container decorated by members of No. 37 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the Operation Christmas Drop 17 packing day.
A cardboard container decorated by members of 37 Squadron during this year’s Operation Christmas Drop packing day. (Defence)