Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Gladstone final port of call for US Army helicopters

Thirteen United States Army military helicopters were shipped to and offloaded at Gladstone in late June for participation in combined military exercise, Talisman Saber 2017. Fast forward one month to after completion of the mid-intensity "high end" warfighting exercise, the same choppers began returning to the port city, but this time to be partially disassembled in preparation for shipment aboard a civilian cargo vessel to Indonesia for their next assignment.

Ferrying to Gladstone from the north, possibly Williamson Airfield at Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA), four United States Army (US Army) Boeing AH-64 Apache and a single Sikorsky UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter touched down in a secure compound adjacent to the Port of Gladstone on Monday 24 July.

Wasting no time, work began almost immediately on partially disassembling the choppers for transportation by sea, with anticipation the remaining eight helicopters (all UH-60M Blackhawk choppers) arriving at the port city within a day or so for the same fate. 

While taking a few moments to have a chat with an Apache helicopter pilot, we were informed he was impressed with the manoeuvrability and speed of the Australian Army ARH Tiger helicopters, however, commented they did not exhibit an equivalent level of combat capability as the larger and heavier Apache.