RAAF reforms 35 Squadron for new aircraft
THE RAAF has re-established 35 Squadron, the original "wallaby airlines" which transported Australian personnel during the Vietnam War.
The new 35 Squadron will be equipped with the Caribou replacement, the new C-27J Spartan transport aircraft which will start entering service from 2015.
RAAF chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown said the 35 Squadron had provided combat airlift for Australian personnel in several conflicts.
"The C-27J is ideally suited to continue this legacy of support for personnel deployed on combat, peacekeeping or disaster relief operations," he said in a statement on Monday.
The squadron will be based at RAAF Base Richmond, outside Sydney, commanded by Wing Commander Brad Clarke, initially with 25 personnel but growing to around 250 as the C-27Js start to arrive.
"Our first tasks are to work with the Battlefield Airlift Transition Office to map the required workforce structure, operating procedures and introduction plan for the C-27J Spartan," he said in a statement.
"35 Squadron will send the first aircrew and maintenance personnel to train on the C-27J in the United States in 2014."
The last of the Vietnam-era Caribou battlefield transport aircraft retired in 2009 with the government announcing last May it would buy 10 new Alenia C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft as their replacement.
Wing Commander Clarke said the C-27Js, with their capability to land on short rough strips, would greatly increase the number of airfields the Australian Defence Force could use.
Number 35 Squadron was formed in Western Australia in March 1942 to provide air transport around Australia and New Guinea.
It was disbanded in 1946 then reformed in July 1966 to operate the Caribou aircraft in Vietnam.
The unit was christened Wallaby Airlines after its call sign "wallaby", carrying some 677,000 passengers and 36 million kilograms of freight without a single fatality.
The unit returned to Richmond in 1972 and relocated to RAAF Base Townsville in 1974, supporting defence operations and participating in a wide range disaster relief missions. It was disbanded again in 2000.
Source: AAP News - 14 January 2013
Photo: The RAAF C-27J Spartan Aircraft (Photo by australianaviation.com.au)