On November 15, the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 33 Squadron prepared five of its KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transports for launch at the same time from RAAF Amberley, Queensland, demonstrating the squadron’s ability to surge to meet Australia’s strategic air mobility requirements. The five KC-30As conducted an ‘elephant walk’ – the traditional name given to a group of aircraft taxiing together – before four of these aircraft took off on missions that included air-to-air refuelling training, a flight test activity, and airlift support to rural firefighters in New South Wales. Air Force operates a fleet of seven KC-30As, with the first introduced to Air Force service in 2011. Instances where a majority of the KC-30A fleet are together at RAAF Base Amberley are rare, with the aircraft used extensively to deploy defence personnel and Air Force aircraft over long distances, as well as sustaining operations and exercises with air-to-air refuelling.
Three days later there was another rare sight at the base when all eight of 36 Squadron’s C-17A Globemasters shared the tarmac together for several hours for the first time. Four C-17As were introduced to RAAF service between December 2006 and March 2008, with another four acquired in 2011, 2012, and 2015 (two aircraft). The C-17A provides the Australian Defence Force with a strategic airlift capability, able to carry large items of equipment and cargo over long distances. The nature of this work, often taking 36 Squadron personnel around the globe, has prevented all eight aircraft from being at their home base until now.