U.S., Australia new C-17 maintenance arrangement enhances readiness, cooperation

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Maintainers from the 15th Maintenance Group and members from the 36th Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley, perform maintenance on a C-17 Globemaster III at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 12, 2017. The recently implemented C-17 Aircraft Repair and Maintenance Services Implementing Arrangement enables U.S. and Australian C-17 maintainers to perform full, interoperable cross-maintenance on U.S. or Australian C-17s at mission critical times on a global scale, improving aircraft availability and decreasing aircraft maintenance downtime and maintenance recovery expenses. (Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman)

U.S. Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force officials implemented a new maintenance arrangement for the C-17 that will improve strategic airlift efficiency and fleet readiness.

The C-17 Aircraft Repair and Maintenance Services Implementing Arrangement advances U.S. and Australian interoperability.
Previously, U.S. and Australian Airmen could only assist one another with C-17 aircraft repairs. Now, Airmen from either nation are able to perform full, interoperable cross-maintenance on U.S. or Australian C-17s at mission critical times on a global scale, improving aircraft availability and decreasing aircraft maintenance downtime and maintenance recovery expenses.

“Partnerships are vital in the mobility enterprise,” said Brig. Gen. Steve Bleymaier, Air Mobility Command Director of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection. “Mobility Airmen are always ready to deliver strength and hope anywhere in the world at any time, and we are most successful when we work with valued partners like our Australian counterparts.”

The arrangement increases the C-17’s strategic readiness, vital to executing the global mobility mission and absolutely critical in the vast Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Strategic airlift assets like the C-17 are vital to ensuring the U.S. can operate rapidly in and overcome the challenges associated with operating in a region known for its ‘tyranny of distance.’

“This maintenance arrangement strengthens the alliance between the United States and Australia. The ability to conduct maintenance, a level of interoperability not previously achievable, on each other’s C-17s provides opportunities to share maintenance best practices,” said Jim Silva, Deputy Director for HQ PACAF Logistics, Engineering, and Force Protection. “Bottom line: this action improves operational resiliency, capability and cooperation. Even in Australia, this arrangement is held up as the example of the benefits of common support logistics arrangements and how they enhance operational capability.”

New opportunities may be realized as well, including establishing combined and integrated C-17 maintenance organizations in deployed environments and the potential for integrating the capability into our new adaptive and agile basing concepts.

“This level of aircraft maintenance interoperability is unprecedented and opens the door for a new strategic mindset,” Bleymaier said.

The C-17 ARMS IA signals our continued commitment to interoperability with Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) under the U.S. and Australian Enhanced Air Cooperation Agreement.

Air Vice-Marshal Steve Roberton, Air Commander Australia, said the arrangement would provide much-needed flexibility during joint operations.

“Our C-17A workforce regularly shares a tarmac with American C-17As, whether we are on exercise together at home, or deployed across the globe,” Air Vice-Marshal Roberton said.