Australia has gifted two new PAC-750XL aircraft to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), continuing to deepen its defence partnership.
The aircraft will increase the PNGDF’s ability to support the PNG community and civil authorities through transport, search, rescue and surveillance.
It is also an important training platform for new pilots, aircrew and maintenance personnel undergoing training through the Flights of Excellence program supported by RAAF.
The PNGDF selected the PAC-750XL for its ability to take off and land on shorter, less-prepared airfields, adding highly valued capability in PNG’s diverse and challenging terrain.
The aircraft will work alongside a RAAF C-27J Spartan that regularly deploys to PNG under the Defence Pacific Air Program.
Defence Minister Richard Marles and PNG’s Minister for Defence Win Bakri Daki announced the program in October.
An official handover ceremony was held on November 2 at the Air Transport Wing, Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, and was attended by Australian Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite and PNG Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso.
“Australia is pleased to be able to partner with the PNGDF to strengthen their aviation capability and to respond to the needs of the government and people of Papua New Guinea,” Mr Thistlethwaite said.
“The two aircraft will create new opportunities for our forces to work together, building on our longstanding defence partnership.”
Australia successfully remediated PNG’s existing PAC-750XL in 2021, with this acquisition bolstering the PNGDF’s fleet to three aircraft.
Mr Rosso acknowledged and thanked Australia for its support.
“These two aircraft are very important platforms that will be brought into service in the PNGDF Air Transport Wing [ATW]. I would like to acknowledge and thank Australia for effectively supporting the Flights of Excellence program, as this pathway has laid the foundations for building PNGDF sovereign air operations,” Mr Rosso said.
“I would also like to thank the Australian government for the refurbishment of the ATW hangar. This is a significant investment into building PNGDF’s sovereign air capability. It is a significant contribution by Australia towards ensuring peace, security and stability in our region and provides opportunities for PNGDF and ADF to work together as partners.”
Director PNG Sovereign Air Capability Group Captain Stephen Fielder has been an integral part of the Flights of Excellence program since its beginning in 2019.
“Walking alongside my PNGDF counterparts as together we rebuild and develop PNG’s sovereign aviation capability continues to be a richly rewarding experience,” Group Captain Fielder said.
“Having been closely involved in the PAC-750XL acquisition and gifting project from inception to delivery, I am thrilled to finally see the aircraft now accepted into the PNGDF.”
Public media release
Defence image L-R – Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Squadron Leader David Thornton, Papua New Guinea Defence Force Lieutenant Colonel Doug Vavar, RAAF Group Captain Stephen Fielder, and in the front row, Wing Commander Tim Shaw stand with a PAC-750XL at the Air Transport Wing, Port Moresby.