NZDF a heavy lifter for coalition forces in the Middle East
A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) air transport team is contributing to stability and security in the Middle East, flying 2,350 coalition troops and about 550 tonnes of supplies across the region since their mission began in May.
A 32-strong detachment and a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft have been operating with the Australian Defence Force’s Air Mobility Task Group to transport supplies and personnel required for New Zealand, Australian and coalition operations in the Middle East.
Squadron Leader Ben Woodhouse, the Detachment Commander of the NZDF air transport team’s second rotation, said flying personnel in and out of theatre and transporting essential equipment and supplies was vital to sustaining coalition operations across the region.
“Airlift support serves as a lifeline to these land-based missions,” he said. “In a tangible way, we have contributed to maintaining security and stability in the Middle East.
“The entire team has done a lot of heavy lifting together with our Australian Defence Force partners.”
The integration of the NZDF’s air transport team with coalition partners had been boosted by the recent start of brief exchanges with the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Air Movements Load team, Squadron Leader Woodhouse said.
Through the exchanges, NZDF Air Load personnel worked briefly with the RAF’s Air Mobility Division and learned how they load and unload British military transport aircraft such as the Airbus A400M, Boeing C-17 Globemaster and Voyager, as well as their procedures in handling cargo and passengers, he said.
“The exchanges provide an opportunity for junior members to build professional relationships and gain an appreciation for working with other equipment and aircraft, as well as gain insights into different cargo and passenger procedures.
“They have also helped foster better cohesion and working relationships with our coalition partners.”
The NZDF team, which is deployed until December, includes aircraft technicians, logistics and communications specialists, maintenance personnel, and an Air Movements Load Team that is supporting coalition aircraft in the region.
The current mission builds on the success of a six-month air transport deployment in 2016 and a month-long mission in 2017.
NZDF’s air transport mission in the Middle East (as at 24 November, 2018):
Coalition troops transported: 2,350
Supplies delivered: about 550 tonnes
Hours flown: about 570