Monday, March 27, 2017

RAAF Search and Rescue (CHC Helicopters) Sikorsky S-76A VH-HRP "Choppa 42" Calls into Clermont and Biloela / Thangool Airports

On Sunday 26 March, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Search and Rescue (CHC Helicopters) Sikorsky S-76A VH-HRP departed Townsville and was spotted (by me!) arriving into my local airport at Clermont Aerodrome.

After taking on fuel, VH-HRP departed Clermont for Biloela / Thangool Airport.  It then continued to RAAF Base Amberley.

It appears that VH-HRP was returning South from Townsville where it provided support during an abridged running of the RAAF's Exercise Black Dagger.

Exercise Black Dagger is the culmination of Number 58 Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) course designed to produce combat ready, certified  JTAC personnel.  It is a field training exercise that was planned to be held at RAAF Base Townsville and surrounding airspace.

RAAF Pilatus PC-9 aircraft from Number 4 Squadron were joined in Townsville over this last week by eight United States Navy (USN) Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-27 Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets from Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan, which all participated in the Exercise over the last few days.

I suspect that VH-HRP flew South from Townsville via a more 'inland' route due to the 'coastal' route being affected by the looming severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

As we mentioned below, VH-HRP was again heard to be using the new radio callsign of "Choppa 42" - I've been told that this and other RAAF Rescue helicopters have now starting using new callsigns featuring two-numbers rather than one.

Of interest, all eight of the US Navy Hornets have also 'escaped' from Townsville, also flying South to Amberley over the weekend.

Photos taken by Leroy  ©

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