Royal Australian Navy’s landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra recently welcomed a United States Marine Corps attack helicopter, the AH-1 SuperCobra.
Landing on the flight deck, together with the UH-1 Huey/Venom medium utility helicopter, both aircraft were ‘hot refuelled’ by Canberra’s flight deck team.
The landing and refuelling of both aircraft types were the first in Royal Australian Navy history and concluded a series of interoperability trials with United States Marine Corps aircraft as part of Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016.
Hot refuelling (or fuelling with engines operating) is performed when military operations require a rapid turn around of aircraft.
It is frequently practised in Royal Australian Navy ships at sea, though rarely with such a broad range of coalition aircraft.
Early on in the exercise Canberra US Marines MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and CH-53E Super Stallion, the largest helicopter in the United States military, landed on the Australian ship.
Both aircraft were hot refuelled in subsequent landings.
Members of the Australian Army’s 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, rehearsed amphibious assault drills in the Osprey and the Governor General of Australia, His Excellency General the Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC (Ret’d) flew in the Osprey from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to land on Canberra as part of an official visit.
RIMPAC 16 was the first major international exercise for Canberra and its embarked MRH-90 helicopters, as well as the MH-60R Seahawk helicopters embarked in frigates HMAS Warramunga and Ballarat.