Look it's a bird... it's a plane... no it's a bulldozer

A No. 37 Squadron (37SQN) C-130H Hercules performs an airdrop of a John Deere light tracked bulldozer.
A No. 37 Squadron (37SQN) C-130H Hercules performs an airdrop of a John Deere light tracked bulldozer. Mr Phil Brown

FORGET being trapped behind wide or oversized loads on the highway, the Australian Defence Force has a better idea.

Knowing it may have to deliver cargo or machinery without access to a runway or airstrip, the Army and Air Force decided to test parachuting a 10-tonne bulldozer from a height of 350 metres from a C-130H Hercules.

This operation dozer drop used a John Deere 450 bulldozer covered in camouflage paint over its Londonberry base north of Sydney in November last year.

The tests were to ensure such a drop did not put the aircraft or the dozer at risk.

Could this be a way of keeping slow-moving trucks carrying mining machines off Queensland highways? Probably not.

But it means when natural disasters strike, desperately-needed help is just a short plane flight away.

Air Movements Training and Development Unit Commanding officer Carl Newman said armed forces were not always guaranteed a safe place to land.

"A humanitarian disaster may impact a runway or an adversary might do something to a runway that stops us from landing on it," he said.

"We'll be able to airdrop this equipment from overheard and allow army to clear that point of entry to allow forces to follow in and do the job it is required to do."

Hitachi Construction Machinery provided 21 John Deere 450J dozers modified to withstand air drops and battlefields to the Australian Defence Force in 2012.

This drop was the final mission for this Hercules which was retired after 37 years of use.


The dozer, pallets, rigging and parachutes weighed 10.5 tonnes.

An "extraction parachute" pulled the machine from the Hercules cargo bay.

Once out, five 30m parachutes deployed.

The bulldozer is used to clear areas, repair runways and prepare drop-zones.

More dozer drops will be done with C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster transports.

Topics:  editors picks raaf

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