Monday, August 1, 2011

Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 - Australian Army Helicopters and Air Force Globemasters Return to Rockhampton Airport

It's been a busy couple of days at Rockhampton Airport, especially for the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

During the afternoon of Sunday 31 July, most of the Army Sikorsky S70A-9 Blackhawk and Eurocopter EC665 Tiger (ARH) helicopters, that had recently been moved to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, returned to the airport in formations of one or two. As Ben O's photos show, several of the choppers made very spectacular approaches over the other parked choppers and eventually onto Runway 15.

Some of the Commonwealth CA-32 (Bell 206B/OH-58A) Kiowa helicopters have also been flying to Shoalwater Bay over the last couple of days, although it appears that all of these have also all returned to Rockhampton Airport.

Local spotters reported that some of the Tiger helicopters were also flying circuits and hover tests over Rockhampton Airport on Sunday afternoon. There were suggestions these flights were to empty their fuel tanks in preparation for their uplift back to their home in Darwin. Suffice to say, spotters knew the Tigers were to be uplifted soon, as their rotar blades were being removed during the afternoon.

This uplift was scheduled to start on Sunday 31 July with RAAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III A41-206 arriving as "Stallion 30". However, it is believed this aircraft broke down and consequently spent the night parked at Rockhampton Airport, as Ben O's photos show below.

So as this Globemaster had broken down, the RAAF was forced to fly a replacement to Rockhampton Airport on Monday 1 August. A41-209 is pictured arriving during the morning as "Stallion 73".

As shown below, the Globemaster took on two of the EC665 Tiger helicopters, and later departed to Darwin again as "Stallion 39".

Incidentally, as noted by Ben O, one of the Tiger helicopters that was flown out today was A38-006.

This was the chopper that was damaged in the alleged mattock attack by the peace activist who broke into Rockhampton Airport a fortnight ago. The photos Ben O took, show the damage to the forward panel.

Globemaster A41-206 eventually departed Monday afternoon as "Stallion 73".

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