NO.35 SQUADRON, which dates back to 1942, will accommodate 10 new Alenia C-27J Spartan Battlefield aircraft which are due to arrive at Richmond RAAF in 2015.
The announcement of the squadron being re-established allays widespread fears the Richmond base was winding down operations with the recent loss of jobs as well as the departure of the Hercules.
The re-established No.35 Squadron will make Richmond base its home for the foreseeable future.
Macquarie Labor candidate Susan Templemann told the Gazette she believes this will give local businesses confidence in the continuing presence of the RAAF operations which are so important to the local economy.
‘‘It’s great that the squadron will be returning to Richmond and it will grow to its full capacity over the next few years,’’ she said. ‘‘This is a demonstration of the important role which Richmond RAAF base plays in the Australia’s defence and peacekeeping activities.’’
The squadron will be re-established under the leadership of Wing Commander Brad Clarke.
It will firstly be re-established with 25 personnel but will continue to grow in the upcoming years to reach about 250 members.
‘‘The re-establishment of No.35 squadron will see it prepare for our fleet of 10 C-27J Spartan Battlefield Airlift aircraft,’’ Air-Marshal Geoff Brown said.
The aircraft were bought to replace the Caribou aircraft which retired from service in 2009.
Wing Commander Clarke said their first tasks were to work with the Battlefield Airlift Transition Office to map the required workforce structure, operating procedures and introduction plan for the C-27J Spartan.
“No.35 squadron will send their first aircrew and maintenance personnel to train on the C-27J in the United States next year, 2014,’’ he said. “Once in service, the C-27Js will greatly increase the number of airfields Defence can operate in and they will increase the level of fixed-wing support available on the battlefield.’’
In Australia, the C-27Js will be able to access over 1900 airfields, where the retired C-130 Hercules were only able to access 500.
Air-Marshal Brown said the No.35 squadron has provided combat airlift for Australia in several conflicts. “The C-27J is ideally suited to continue this legacy of support for personnel deployed on combat, peacekeeping, or disaster relief operations,” he said.
The purchase of the C-27Js will help improve the Australian Defence Force’s ability to move troops, equipment and everyday supplies in tough and smaller areas — areas in which the late C-130 Hercules were unable to reach.
The government agreed to the purchase of the new aircraft last May, costing $1.4billion.
The C-27J complements the capabilities of the C-130H and C-17 aircraft as it uses common infrastructure and aircraft systems such as engines, avionics and the cargo-handling systems.
Ms Templeman said she had great respect for the squadron.
‘‘From humble beginnings with only two aircraft in World War II, No.35 squadron earned a proud place during the Vietnam War as an efficient and effective operation,’’ she said.