Japanese Air Force delivers Australian Army reservists to Kangaroo Island bushfire mission

The Japanese Air Force has joined the international humanitarian effort to assist bushfire ravaged Kangaroo Island.

A Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force landed at Kangaroo Island Airport at Kingscote on Saturday afternoon, January 18.

The large cargo aircraft delivered a contingent of Army reservists from Launceston, Tasmania to be rotated into Operation Bushfire Assist on the Island.

The flight from Tasmania to KI took about two and a half hours and the Japanese Hercules then departed for Richmond Air Force Base outside of Sydney.

This was the second Hercules to visit Kangaroo Island this week with an Royal Australian Air Force Hercules out of Richmond delivering relief CFS firefighters on Thursday, January 16.

RAAF Hercules at KI Airport

A smaller New Zealand Air Force cargo plane was also scheduled to land later on Saturday afternoon with more Tasmanian reservists.

The Island the previous week saw two inbound flights of the massive RAAF C-17 cargo aircraft delivering stores for the Army.

Japanese Hercules take-off

The visiting Japanese Hercules on Saturday was one of two from Japanese 401st Tactical Airlift Squadron currently helping in the Australian bushfire crisis.

It is a squadron of the 1st Tactical Airlift Group of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) based at Komaki Air Base in Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

On board the Japanese aircraft were several personnel from the RAAF assisting, including Japanese linguist Flight Lieutenant Michael Tuckett RN, who assisted with translation.

Corporal Brooke Bonnes and Corporal George Marshall from RAAF Base Edinburgh have been on Kangaroo Island for several days assisting with movements at the KI Airport on behalf of the Army.

The Japanese visit was a chance for them to catch briefly on the tarmac with colleague Corporal Callum Burmester, who was liaison load master for the Japanese air crew.

The SA aircrew swapped some food and took away some Japanese instant noodles.

Corporal Bonnes said she was enjoying her stint on KI helping the locals.

She and Corporal Marshall had been able to visit the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park where the Island bushfire affected wildlife was being treated.

She had visited KI before but was hoping to return as a civilian for a holiday to help the local economy post bushfire crisis.

Kangaroo Island and its farming community actually has a long and intimate relationship with Japan.

2019 was the 10th year that all of the Island's canola has been exported to Japan to be sold as ethically produced, single origin and GMO free canola.

The trade relationship is between Kangaroo Island Pure Grain and Palsystem Consumers' Co-operative Union.

Comments