Supporting Our Pacific Family


As part of the first iteration of Operation Solania for 2024, personnel from Air Force’s 35 Squadron and a C-27J Spartan deployed to Port Vila, Vanuatu, to support the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Rai Balang.

The team of 20 scanned the vast oceans of the Pacific to deter and detect illegal fishing activity in the waters of Vanuatu and its exclusive economic zone, with 10 missions conducted between March 4 and 15.

Detachment Commander Flight Lieutenant Tyler Rabbett said the strong partnership between the two nations enhanced security in the region.

“It’s important for us to be here in support of the FFA. Our crew is supplemented with local Fisheries Enforcement, Vanuatu Police and Vanuatu Mobile Force. This allows us to keep eyes out when conducting our search patterns,” Flight Lieutenant Tyler Rabbett said.

The C-27J Spartan demonstrated its enduring capability and flexibility during the aerial maritime surveillance operations. The aircraft conducted low-level flying so loadmasters could capture high-resolution imagery of vessels believed to be fishing illegally.

“The C-27J Spartan is a uniquely capable aircraft. The low-level component allows us to fly alongside vessels for up to an excess of five hours, conducting maritime search and reconnaissance,” Flight Lieutenant Rabbett said.

Despite a busy operational tempo, members of 35 Squadron took time to engage with the local community. At Independence Park, the team joined the Vanuatu Mobile Force at Independence Park to share their love of sport, enjoying games of soccer and touch football, as well as a ceremonial shell of Kava.

35 Squadron personnel also visited the Onesua Presbyterian College to talk about their roles and present the children with sporting gifts.

Flight Lieutenant Rabbett said the operation was a rewarding experience for the entire contingent.

“I know my team and I have had a great time in Vanuatu. The culture, the food and the experience we’ve all had has made for a great deployment,” he said.

/Public Release. View in full here.