C-27J Spartan flight before the C-27 J returns to Australia

A Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft from No. 35 Squadron lands following a maritime surveillance flight over Palau as part of Operation Solania.

23 March 2022– His Excellency Surangel Whipps Jr and several senior government members boarded the Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan last Friday. They experienced first-hand the aerial maritime surveillance work the Australian Defence Force has been conducting in the region. Over the past two weeks, No. 35 Squadron’s C-27J Spartan, has been working alongside Palauan authorities, surveying Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to detect and deter potential illegal fishing in support of the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency’s annual Operation Rai Balang.

President Whipps Jr enjoyed the experience and thanked the Australian Defence Force contingent for their work. The shared gratitude was acknowledged in the form of a plaque presented by No. 35 Squadron to President Whipps after the flight.

Paramount Chief Reklai, was excited to join the President on the military flight, ‘thank you for the work you do, not just to protect Palau’s waters, but the Indo-Pacific region,’ Paramount Chief Reklai said to the 35 Squadron crew.

Australian Ambassador to Palau, Her Excellency, Richelle Turner was proud of the work the Australian Defence Force achieved during their time in Palau. ‘It has been wonderful to have the Australian Defence Force here in the community. They have returned to Palau to continue work alongside Marine Law members and the Forum Fisheries Agency to help protect Palau’s fishing economy. Whilst here they have enjoyed engaging with the Palauan community, joining several community events and school visits.’

Each day, C-27J Spartan patrols operated over Palau’s EEZ to locate ships and vessels of interest for intelligence recording and reporting back to local authorities and the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency.

‘On one particular mission, we located 46 vessels and identified one suspected of illegal activity,’ Flight Lieutenant Burgess said.

‘That information was reported and passed on to the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency and local authorities, enabling them to act on it and ensure vessels are compliant with relevant legislation.’

On the 20 March 2022, the Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan farewelled the Republic of Palau, having successfully completed their operation. Over the course of Operation Rai Balang, the C-27J Spartan sighted 117 vessels and covered a total surveillance footprint of 229,080 nautical miles.

Ambassador Turner noted the presence of the C-27J Spartan reinforced Australia and Palau’s close bilateral partnership and shared maritime security interests.

‘Australia and Palau share a strong and enduring security relationship, built on a shared vision for a region that is secure, stable, resilient and prosperous,’ the Ambassador said.

Imagery of Australian Defence Force activities conducted are available on the Australian Embassy, Koror Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AusEmbPalau/ and the Defence Image Gallery: https://images.defence.gov.au/assets/Home/Search?Query=%3Fq%3Dsolania&Type=NavAlbum&TabIndex=2&AlbumName=Solania

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