C130AThis weekend the Royal Australian Air Force will celebrate fifty years of outstanding achievements by its enduring ‘work horse’ – the C-130 Hercules aircraft. I flew on all variants from the old A model in 1964 through to the J model in the mid 80s and appreciated their capabilities. I spent some time as Unit Emplaning officer of 1RAR in the ODF in Townsville and was forced by appointment to become precisely knowledgeable of their capability to manage the deployment of a Battalion group on Ex Swift Eagle. They have been a great asset to the military and will be for some to come. Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin says;
Various models of Hercules aircraft have been the backbone of many of the Australian Defence Force’s most important operations during the past 50 years. The Hercules have provided combat air lift capability, including tactical transport of troops and cargo as well as special forces insertion, parachuting and air drops. In marking 50 years of C-130 service, we recognise the dedication of the thousands of air crew, ground and support personnel and contractors who have worked hard to fly and maintain the Hercules in Australia and in deployed locations around the world.
In recent years, our C-130 Hercules have seen more active duty than any other aircraft in the RAAF.This service has been widely appreciated across the ADF. Today three RAAF Hercules are based in the Middle East, and continue to provide vital air lift support to Australian and Coalition forces. Some of the more memorable achievements include service during the Vietnam War, the emergency response to Cyclone Tracy, the Katherine floods, the Boxing Day tsunami and the Bali bombings. The C-130 fleet ran regular services to Vietnam during that war and most importantly conducted medevacs of ill and wounded service personnel. They were also tasked with refugee relief at the end of the conflict. In 2005, the C-130s delivered humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the Boxing Day tsunami and they brought home the Australians injured in the Bali bombings in 2002. The C-130 Hercules began service with the RAAF in 1958, with the arrival of twelve C-130 A models. The success of this acquisition was followed in 1966 with twelve C-130 E models. Twelve C-130 H models arrived in 1978 to replace the 20 year old A model and the latest version; the C-130 J model arrived to replace the E model in 1999. RAAF currently has a fleet of 24 C-130s, comprising J and H models. While the C-130 has undergone several modifications over the past 50 years, its fuselage shape has largely remained unchanged. The 50th anniversary celebrations include a flypast of Sydney, and a reunion at RAAF Richmond Pictured is a C130J.

Good spin Fitzgibbon

DEFENCE Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has accused the former Howard Government of perpetrating a cruel hoax on veteran organisations which were offered free Leopard tanks, now likely to cost thousands of dollars. No, the Howard government offered to ‘gift’ Leopard tanks – it’s you who have decided to charge for them.
“De-commissioned Leopard tanks will soon be available for gifting to veteran and historical organisations across Australia as part of the Howard Government’s acquisition of the new Abrams tanks,” then-defence minister Brendan Nelson said in a statement in September last year.
Fitzgibbon spins faster;
“However, it must be done in a fiscally responsible fashion and the organisations involved must be fully aware of the facts that the now opposition deliberately failed to inform them of,” he said.
The organizations were already fully aware of the facts – It is you who have changed them. Why don’t you just say that organizations that would want a tank outside their buildings are not the type of people you would choose to associate with and if they want the tanks they will bloody pay for them. It’s got nothing to do with the Howard government. If you change a promise made by Howard government, as is your right, then just say so.

SASR getting new vehicles

Ending a 50-year relationship with Land Rover, the army will also sign off next month on a $314 million contract with Mercedes Benz for 1200 new G-Wagon light four-wheel-drive vehicles as its off-roader of choice. Special Operations Command troops, the SASR and commandos can expect to be driving an altogether new vehicle, the British-made Supacat – named the Nary in Australia in honour of Warrant Officer David Nary, who died during a Middle East pre-deployment operation in 2005. Nary I doubt the SASR will use them in yellow livery but this is the vehicle ordered 1200 new Mercede Benz Gelaendenwagens (G-Wagons) are also coming on line. gwagon The pic is of the Canadian G-Wagon stolen from here (scroll down) Could be a lot of Land Rovers coming on the market soon. Maybe I could buy another one……and maybe I could be divorced…mmm…decisions.


Aussie GunnerHaven’t been to Michael Yon’s site for a month or two but visited today and found great reading on Afghanistan He is with the Brit’s 2nd Para and writes of their day to day life fighting “Terry” Taliban (as the Brits call them). If you read on you will find some mention of us Aussies but only a passing reference. I would really like to see an Australian journalist submit reports on Australian operations with the personal detail Yon uses when reporting on the Brits and the Yanks. It has long been a complaint of mine that the Australian military Public Relations people are more reactive than proactive. I’m sure Australians would love to read of the daily struggles and successes of our troops in far off lands written in a positive style; to read of their sons and daughters lives as they play their part in the war. Surely it’s a strategy of war to keep the public at home informed and yet all I ever read is terse military media emails that read just like the reports I used to write – just the facts man, just the facts. Minister for Defence said in Canberra today…….Chief of Navy says recruiting up….Gen Gillespie reports troops involved in clash… boring…boring. Come on guys, give us something to hang on to. Whatever, go read how Michael Yon tells a story. It’s fascinating. Also read Where Eagles Dare – Yon’s account of a convoy moving a giant turbine up-country to a dam to provide more power for the locals. The photo of the Aussie gunner above comes from that operation courtesy of the British Minister of Defence (MOD) Update: Reader FM points to a YouTube video on the Gunners supporting the Turbine Operation.

Airborne Artillery

Received this in an email from old army mate Stoney B. I couldn’t find a link so have included the entire text for the interest of readers and also in the interest of winding up any peaceniks who might accidently arrive on my site. Boeing’s new laser cannon can melt a hole in a tank from five miles away and 10,000 feet up-and it’s ready to fly this year Laser Creating a laser that can melt a soda can in a lab is a finicky enough task. Later this year, scientists will put a 40,000-pound chemical laser in the belly of a gunship flying at 300 mph and take aim at targets as far away as five miles. And we’re not talking aluminum cans. Boeing’s new Advanced Tactical Laser will cook trucks, tanks, radio stations-the kinds of things hit with missiles and rockets today. Whereas conventional projectiles can lose sight of their target and be shot down or deflected, the ATL moves at the speed of light and can strike several targets in rapid succession. Last December, Boeing, under contract from the Department of Defense, installed a $200-million prototype of the laser into a C-130 at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico in preparation for test flights this year. From there it will go to the Air Force for more testing, and it could be in battle within five years. Precise control over the beam’s aim allows it to hit a moving target a few inches wide and confine the damage to that space. The Pentagon hopes such precision will translate into less collateral damage than even today’s most accurate missiles. Future versions using different types of lasers could be mounted on smaller vehicles, such as fighter jets, helicopters and trucks. How to Melt a Tank in Three Seconds Or Less 1. Find Your Target When the C-130 flies within targeting range (up to five miles away), the gunner aims using a rotating video camera mounted beneath the fuselage. The computer locks onto the object to continually track it. A second crew member precisely adjusts the laser beam’s strength -higher power to disable vehicles, lower power to knock out, say, a small power generator. The gunner hits ‘fire,’ and the computer takes over from there. 2. Heat Up the Laser In a fraction of a second, chlorine gas mixes with hydrogen peroxide. The resulting chemical reaction creates highly energetic oxygen molecules. Pressurized nitrogen pushes the oxygen through a fine mist of iodine, transferring the oxygen’s energy to iodine molecules, which shed it in the form of intense light. 3. Amplify the Beam The optical resonator bounces this light between mirrors, forcing more iodine molecules to cough up their photons, further increasing the laser beam’s intensity. From there, the light travels through a sealed pipe above the weapon’s crew station and into a chamber called the optical bench. There, sensors determine the beam’s quality, while mechanically controlled mirrors compensate for movement of the airplane, vibration and atmospheric conditions. Precise airflow regulates the chamber’s temperature and humidity, which helps keep the beam strong. 4. Stand Clear A kind of reverse telescope called the beam expander inside a retractable, swiveling pod called the turret widens the beam to 20 inches and aims it. The laser’s computer determines the distance to the target and adjusts the beam so it condenses into a focused point at just the right spot. Tracking computers help make microscopic adjustments to compensate for both the airplane’s and the target’s movement. A burst of a few seconds’ duration will burn a several-inch-wide hole in whatever it hits. F A Q • How hot is the beam? The laser itself isn’t hot, but it can heat its target to thousands of degrees. • Does the laser sear everything in its path? Yes If a bird flew into the firing laser’s line of sight- well, no more bird. Fortunately, the weapon will fire for only a few seconds at a time, minimizing the risk. • Does it melt its target or just set it aflame? That depends on what it hits. It will melt metal, but if the target is combustible, it will burn.

Defence red-herring

Defence has taken the unusual step of disclosing details of the measures it is taking to save soldiers’ lives after being criticised for shortcomings in its aerial medical evacuation capabilities in Afghanistan.
AUSTRALIAN special forces patrols in Afghanistan are being accompanied by soldiers with paramedic-level medical training to reduce the danger of troops dying in remote areas before rescue helicopters can arrive.
They always have been now back to the question – when are you going to provide dedicated Australian AME choppers for our troops?

Such scrutiny

THE Australian Defence Force has admitted that a dying Australian soldier took nearly two hours to reach hospital in Afghanistan, but sharply rejects claims that his retrieval was bungled.
Having initially refused to release timings on the wounding and air evacuation of SAS signaller Sean McCarthy, who died of injuries inflicted by a road-side bomb on July 8, the ADF revealed yesterday that aero-medical evacuation choppers lifted off from Kandahar airbase 38 minutes after the blast happened, and 22 minutes after the call for help from the soldiers was logged.
The time lag between the incident and lift off appears to be a little lengthy to me and will to all Vietnam Vets. We had a system then where we would radio in “Standby Dustoff” (AME) as soon as we knew we had taken casualties. Thus within a few minutes of a soldier being wounded the Medicos were warned of an imminent requirement for evacuation; the chopper crew were doing their preflights and the Doctors and Nurses were scrubbing up. Presuming Armies remember lessons from the past, and yes I know that isn’t always a given, then I would imagine that something similar happens today. If the choppers lifted off 38 minutes after the blast and 22 minutes after the radio call for evacuation then are we expected to believe that the patrol took 16 minutes to call for evacuation of a seriously wounded soldier? I’m not criticising anyone here, least of all the patrol, as my comments are being written far from the realities and fog of war and in the comfort of my office but the ADF does need to review every action and reaction to ensure we are doing the best for our diggers. I’m sure the ADF are busy doing just that right now. Recommended reading: DUSTOFF in the Vietnam War.

Peace statements, hymns and insults

From a Defence Mailing list email. The ADF is hosting military pilgrims from around the world attending World Youth Day 08 (WYD08).
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and foreign military pilgrims will hold a ceremony including a reading of a statement of peace and singing hymns on the Sydney Opera House steps to thank their NSW hosts for World Youth Day 08.
Seems a contradiction in terms to me but never mind….things do change. Moving right along I note academics still hold us in high regard; THE Australian Defence Force is planning to open the nation’s army, navy and air force bases to high school work experience students in a bid to arrest the crisis in recruitment. All well and good – at least it’s a plan but besides people panicking that a young man or woman should be exposed to, or actually use a weapon, academics apparently think so little of the military culture that the writer drops this little quote.
The program is also likely to be opposed by some education professionals on grounds that military culture is incompatible with the higher ideals of learning that high school teachers are expected to instil.
I can almost guarantee that I spent more time study tertiary level languages, logistics and management than the reporter, and for that matter, most high school teachers, ever will, but I’m a product of the military culture and whereas my higher ideals of learning had to include the pragmatic with the academic, what would I know – I’m just a dumb soldier! I might add, I haven’t always been convinced that an arts degree is compatible with higher ideals of learning as the academics might suggest, but I’ve never thrown gratuitous insults at the young grads I’ve had working for me. Statements of peace, singing hymns and insults from academics. Ned Kelly, you were right…..such is life – but I will reserve the right to feel insulted for myself and the current batch of ADF members.

No women in Infantry

Army chief General Peter Leah retires and talks about women in the ADF. He has no problems with the girls serving in most of the force but draws the line at direct combat units, as he should. General Leahy said the other key issue involving gender was one of physical strength and the capacity of men and women to perform certain tasks.
“There aren’t many women playing in the Wallabies, or for Carlton, or Essendon. It’s about the physical capability and there are some men who can’t play in the Wallabies. So we need to be fairly clinical, if you like,” he said. “If you want to be in the infantry and you want to be fighting in combat you had better to able to carry a heavy pack long distances.” While army studies suggested some women could do that, “right now they are busy getting ready to go to Beijing for the Olympics”, General Leahy said.
That ‘heavy pack” in my experience could, and often did, weigh about a hundred pounds or 45 kilos so his point is valid. The other reason I never wanted women in Infantry is I know full well that if Private Kevin was in a forward pit with Private Sheilah I wouldn’t be looking to my front or watching my arcs – I would be trying to chat her up. Basic but it’s true. General Leah commanded the Army over an almost unprecedented era of expansion of troops,roles and deployments and he is leaves it in good shape and I for on, wish him well in the future.

In poor taste

THE Defence Department is investigating allegations that television celebrity Tania Zaetta had sex with Australian special forces soldiers during a recent tour of war-ravaged Afghanistan. So what? The lady’s behavior isn’t in question; it is the ethics and poor manners of those who reported the alleged incident, with name, to the Defence Minister and those who then released it to the media. Opposition defence spokesman Nick Minchin, who travelled on a transport aircraft with Zaetta and Anderson during the tour, has demanded an explanation from Mr Fitzgibbon. He says;
DEFENCE Minister Joel Fitzgibbon must apologise for the “gross” and “extraordinary” invasion of entertainer Tania Zaetta’s privacy after claims she had sex with Australian troops reached the media.
I agree and wait with baited breath for Fitzgibbon to make amends to the lady in question. I watched the Australian Story on ABC and was moved by these young guys and girls doing their bit for the morale of the troops. Conversely, I noted in the show that there were entertainers who declined to volunteer to join the entertainers for ideological reasons. If there is any naming to be done then maybe we could have the names of these bastards who have insulted our troops rather than naming of someone involved in a rumour. UPDATE: This entire event happened on Fitzgibbon’s shift but when called to task and asked for answers he has this to say in a Defence Media email release;
The Opposition Spokesman for Defence Senator Nick Minchin’s attempts to play politics with what at this stage is an allegation only has dragged the state of the Liberal Party to new lows.
Nick is not ‘playing politics’ with the allegation; he is questioning the release of the details of the allegation to the media. Just answer the questions, Minister. He goes on to make sure we know it’s not his fault;
The Minister has formally asked Defence for a review of the process which determines how ‘Hot Issues Briefs’ are generated and how widely they are distributed. He has also asked what measures are in place to test the necessity of using names in such briefs. Further, the Minister has directed that an inquiry be held into how this particular Brief came to be made public.
I look forward to the answers.
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