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U.S.–Australia New C-17 Maintenance Arrangement Enhances Readiness, Cooperation

By AIR MOBILITY COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

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 (ARMS IA) advances U.S. and Australian interoperability. Previously, United States 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 United States 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 Headquarters Pacific Air Forces (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 the 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.

“Whilst a USAF C-17A is no different from a RAAF C-17A, our air forces have different maintenance workforce structures, which is what makes an arrangement like this essential.”

“By making it easier to help one another, this arrangement provides flexibility and mission assuredness for USAF and RAAF C-17A missions.”

The RAAF operates a fleet of eight C-17As from RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, Australia.

The C-17 IA is the first, with a high potential of adding additional airframes to the ARMS arrangement construct between the United States and one of our chief allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Future IAs involving the mobility fleet may include the C-130J Hercules. The United States and Australia—partners in the Joint Strike Fighter program— also have potential plans to develop an arrangement for F-35 Lightning II maintenance in the future.