ADF Supports Remote NT Community


In the wake of Tropical Cyclone Megan, the ADF responded to a request from the Northern Territory government to provide assistance to the community of Borroloola.

Over several days, ADF personnel and aircraft deployed to the NT to assist local emergency services with the evacuation of local residents, delivery of much-needed stores, and soil strength testing of the airfield.

The ADF support included two C-130J Hercules, one C-27J Spartan, and their respective crews, who were assigned to this disaster-relief tasking, including C-27J pilot Flight Lieutenant James Bendun.

“We have offloaded thousands of kilos of fresh food, medicine, and a number of NT police, fire and rescue, and medical teams to assist Borroloola,” Flight Lieutenant Bendun said.

“Members from 35 Squadron and 37 Squadron worked alongside air movements, airfield engineers and NT police and firefighters to conduct these evacuations.”

The ADF was tasked through the National Emergency Management Agency following a request from the NT government to support the cyclone and flooding relief efforts.

Over the first three days, ADF personnel supported the evacuation of about 370 local residents of Borroloola to Darwin.

Loadmaster on the C-27J Corporal Nicholas Winkler said it was a rewarding task.

“Being first in on the ground, working alongside emergency services and helping people in need was a great experience to be a part of,” Corporal Winkler said.

“It was very busy out there but we had a great team to work alongside.”

Prior to the evacuation, an Air Force and Army engineering team conducted soil strength testing to analyse the condition of the runway, as airfield engineer Flying Officer Patrick Tanner explained.

“This testing determined the maximum allowable operations of various aircraft types on the Borroloola airfield,” Flying Officer Tanner said.

“The importance of this was to ensure we did not overstress the pavement following the cyclone, as there was a risk that landing aircraft here could damage the surface further, ceasing operations.”

The engineering team’s survey ensured the airfield was safe for air mobility aircraft to land in order to aid the evacuation efforts.

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