In all, five Boeing AH-64E Apache and eight Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were unloaded from a ship at the Gladstone Port during the last week. Their rotor blades were re-attached and test flights were conducted before they started taking to the air on Saturday to fly up to Rockhampton Airport.
Research reveals these 13 helicopters are of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, USA.
The UH-60M Blackhawks are of the 2nd Battalion 158th Aviation Regiment 'Warhawks', while the UH-60L Blackhawks are of the 1st Battalion 52nd Aviation Regiment. The AH-64E Apaches are of the 1st Battalion 229th Aviation Regiment. Altogether, they have formed Task Force 'Tigershark'.
One of the Blackhawks - (13-)20577 - then returned to Gladstone.
Then, during the late afternoon, also on Saturday 29 June, another UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter (13-)20539 and AH-64E Apache helicopter (18-03198) 83198 were both noted arriving into Rockhampton Airport.
In all, two Blackhawks and two Apaches were being prepared to stay for the night at Rockhampton Airport.
While down at the Gladstone Port, five Blackhawks and three Apaches remain in their secure compound, along with some other ground equipment and vehicles. It is expected that some more, or all, of these will position to Rockhampton Airport on Sunday 30 June or in the days after.
Sincere thanks to the local plane spotters for their information and photos to be able to prepare this post!
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Photos taken by Scott Harris, Russell Prothero and Anthony Schulz ©