The Australian Antarctic Division and Royal Australian Air Force have successfully flown a joint operational mission to East Antarctica, with a C-17A Globemaster III delivering heavy lift cargo to Wilkins Aerodrome in support of the Australian Antarctic programme.

The C-17A flew the 3450km in just over five hours hours, landing at Wilkins Aerodrome near Casey station at 3pm yesterday where it unloaded 12,340kg of cargo, including a brand new Hägglunds, a dual cab vehicle that operates over snow and ice terrain and is used to transport personnel and equipment in and around Antarctic stations.

The flight is one in a series of proof of concept flights being trialled by the Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Antarctic Division, with the remaining flights scheduled to take place between November 2015 and February 2016.

The use of the C-17A offers a significant enhancement to the Division’s logistical and scientific capabilities.

The C-17A is the largest aircraft to have flown to Wilkins Aerodrome in Antarctica, and it offers an unprecedented cargo capability that complements the Division’s existing transport options.

The C-17A flew to the ice and return from Hobart International Airport, further demonstrating Tasmania’s status as a leading gateway to Antarctica.

Following the proof of concept flights, a full review will be undertaken by the Australian Antarctic Division and the Air Force. There are no future commitments past these initial flights.