• A C-27J Spartan from No 35 Squadron delivers stores to Lockhart River.
    A C-27J Spartan from No 35 Squadron delivers stores to Lockhart River. Defence

The RAAF has deployed a C-130J Hercules and crew to Guam in the West Pacific for Operation Christmas Drop 19.

Held annually since 1952, Operation Christmas Drop is led by the US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and is the world’s longest running humanitarian airdrop activity.

This year, Australia will join participants from the US, Japan and for the first time, NZ.

Hercules crews will conduct airdrops by parachute to remote island communities spread across six million square kilometres that are home to people from the Republic of Palau, Northern Marianas, and Federated States of Micronesia.

Each airdropped load weighs up to 200 kilograms and contains items such as construction materials, fishing nets, rice, sporting equipment, and school supplies.

PACAF personnel and their families have secured donations and sponsorship for the airdropped items, with RAAF personnel also sourcing donations from Australia.

Flight Lieutenant Andrew Morgan is participating in his second Operation Christmas Drop this year.

“We plan missions to atolls or islands that are thousands of kilometres from Guam, and airdrop loads to unfamiliar drop zones that are just metres wide,” Flight Lieutenant Morgan said.

“The training benefit for us can’t be understated, but we also get tremendous satisfaction from bringing some Christmas cheer to some of the most isolated communities across the Pacific.

“And working alongside crews from other nations allows us to share knowledge and different approaches firsthand, enabling us to work better together in future operations.”

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