17 August 2023

Australian Air Force strengthens link to Torres Strait

| Chisa Hasegawa
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A group photo including the Australian Airforce, Army and Badu community who cheered the arrival of the C-27J Spartan. They are all standing in front of the aircraft.

Squadron Leader Nathan Thompson said that community engagement is imperative in strengthening ties between Australian Air Force and the Torres Strait.

The Torres Strait and other remote communities are set to benefit, with the Australian Air Force boosting its capability to land and take off on shorter and less prepared runways.

35 Squadron’s C-27J Spartan aircraft landed on the 800m runway on the small island of Badu for the first time in July.

The flight aimed to strengthen ties between 35 Squadron and the Australian Army’s Charlie Company, part of the 51st Battalion, The Far North Queensland Regiment.

“The C-27J Spartan is unique among ADF aircraft, allowing access to the remotest airfields in the Torres Strait Islands and providing an aerial resupply to the Charlie Company ground forces when they are deployed to islands with an airfield,” Squadron Leader Nathan Thompson said.

At a briefing with Charlie Company on Thursday Island, he emphasised the importance of Army and Air Force working together.

A aircraft flies a few meters above ground, either just taken off or about to land. It is set in a remote area with only trees and a dirt ground

The C-27J Spartan showed unique capabilities in reaching the remotest communities.

“[The flight] was a valuable opportunity to demonstrate the C-27J Spartan capabilities, and how it can support our joint forces and the Torres Strait Island communities,” he said.

The Badu’s local community lined the airfield to cheer their arrival and later got the opportunity to board the aircraft and chat with the crew.

Leading Aircraft Woman and Badu home towner Raba Nona was elated to greet the crowd and reunite with family.

“Community engagement is so important because we want to reassure the locals that when they look up at the sky and see our aircraft, they know we are there to help,” said Squadron Leader Thompson.

Three men wearing an Australian Air Force uniform, 35 Squadron uniform and camouflage army uniform are standing side by side looking out at the coast with their backs to the camera

Airfield access to remote communities will allow the Australia Air Force to support ground forces.

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