The first flight to depart the Gladstone Port were three Boeing AH-64E Apaches and a single Boeing CH-47F Chinook which all flew up direct to Mackay Airport. The Apaches were identified as (20-03317, 20-03326, and 20-03332, while the Chinook was 17-08232. they all flew in formation as "Army Copter 3017 Flt".
After taking on fuel and having an extended break, they departed to Townsville after the Blackhawks above.
The second flight which departed the Gladstone Port was of four Sikorsky UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters which also flew up to land at Mackay Airport. They were identified as (14-20649, 11-20340, 14-20653, and 13-20571) and they flew in formation as "Army Copter 20649 Flt".
After taking on fuel, the four Blackhawks departed to Townsville.
Then during the afternoon, three Sikorsky HH-60M medevac Blackhawk helicopters arrived into Rockhampton Airport from the Gladstone Port. They were identified as (20-21134, 20-21135 and 21-21195) and flew in formation as "Dustoff 34".
They also departed up to Townsville.
While down at the Gladstone Port, three more US Army CH-47F Chinook helicopters remain in their secure compound, along with some other ground equipment and vehicles. It is expected that these will position to Townsville - possibly via a CQ Airport - on Wednesday 19 July or in the days after.
In all, three Boeing AH-64E Apache, seven Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk and four CH-47F 'Foxtrot' Chinook helicopters were unloaded from the USNS Bob Hope at the Gladstone Port during the last couple of days. Their rotor blades were re-attached and some quick test flights were conducted before they started taking to the air on Tuesday morning to fly up to Mackay and Rockhampton Airports.
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 HH-60M Blackhawks and CH-47 'Foxtrot' Chinook helicopters 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 'Griffin'.
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 Jamie C, James Kirk and Steve Vit ©