Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Exercise Wallaby 2019 - Volga-Dnepr Antonov AN-124 RA-82044 Touches Down at Rockhampton Airport with Four RSAF AS332M Super Puma Helicopters

A great morning for aircraft enthusiasts and many other curious onlookers as right at dawn on Tuesday 17 September, Volga-Dnepr Antonov AN-124-100 RA-82044 touched down at Rockhampton Airport.  It flew in directly from Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore as VDA2202. 

The giant aircraft taxied onto Gate 6 at the Southern end of the Rockhampton Airport apron and after a couple of hours, it finally commenced unloading its cargo.

The massive Antonov was then placed into its unique 'kneeling' position  - with its front landing gear raised - to allow the unloading of its cargo.

On this flight, four Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Aerospatiale / Eurocopter AS332M Super Puma helicopters were unloaded and parked at Rockhampton Airport.  They were seen to be wearing the serials '271', '273', '279' and '283'.

All four Super Puma helicopters are reportedly flown by the RSAF's 126 Helicopter Squadron "Cougar" (126 SQN).  Their motto is "Ready and Able", with the Cougar adopted as the squadron's motif.

Formed initially on 16 September 1992 at Sembawang Air Base in Singapore, the 126 SQN consisted of newly purchased Cougar helicopters, which were an upgraded version of the Super Puma helicopters then used by its sister squadron – 125 SQN. 126 Squadron was based at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre, supporting the Singapore Armed Force's training needs in Australia, however over the last year, the Squadron moved back to Singapore with Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters now deployed to Oakey on a full-time basis.

It is expected that the Super Pumas will soon be re-assembled and test flown ahead of their participation in the Singapore Armed Force's Exercise Wallaby 2019 which is expected to kick-off in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, after all four Super Puma helicopters were unloaded, RA-82044 was closed up and looked to be departing back to Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore late on Tuesday 17 September.  There are unconfirmed reports that it will return to Rockhampton Airport early on Thursday 19 September with four RSAF Bowing AH-64D Apache helicopters on board.

Be sure to stay tuned to the CQ Plane Spotting Blog for all the latest news and updates via our Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/cqplanespotting/

Sincere thanks to local plane spotters 'IAD', Trevor H and Kayanne H for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos of the Antonov AN-124 at Rockhampton Airport!

Photos taken by 'IAD', Trevor Hardsman and Kayanne Hardsman  ©

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Preparations at Rockhampton Airport for the Singapore Armed Force's Exercise Wallaby 2019 - Antonov AN-124 andHeavy Jet Passenger Charters Coming Soon - Plus RSAF A330MRTT!

It's that time of the year again and preparations are beginning around Rockhampton Airport for the Singapore Armed Force's Exercise Wallaby 2019, which is scheduled to take place around the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) from approximately Tuesday 24 September to Thursday 7 November.

As usual, there will be a significant deployment and redeployment of personnel and equipment taking place before, during and after the Exercise through Rockhampton Airport.  This will be highlighted by a visit by the giant Antonov AN-124 cargo jet with two inbound flights this year already being rumoured to be touching down as early as this weekend!

There will also be some heavy jet passenger charter flights with information suggesting that these could be supplemented by the first-time arrival into Rockhampton Airport of a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Airbus A330MRTT (KC30). 

Singapore ordered six A330MRTT aircraft in 2014 to replace their four venerable Boeing KC-135R Stratotankers, some of which were more than 50 years old.

Recently released AirServices Australia and Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) documents indicate that Exercise Wallaby 2019 will see the participation of Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and military helicopters including Boeing CH-47D Chinooks (from Oakey), as well as Boeing AH-64D Apache and Aerospatiale / Eurocopter AS332M Super Puma helicopters which are being flown in from Singapore.  All these aircraft and helicopters will operate from both Rockhampton Airport and from within the Exercise area.

Stay tuned to the Central Queensland Plane Spotting Blog Facebook Page or Twitter Feed for the latest news and movements associated with Exercise Wallaby 2019.

Photos taken by Russell Prothero and Sid Mitchell  ©