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Global Operations

Antarctic Region

Operation Southern Discovery

A No 36 Squadron C-17A Globemaster sits at Wilkins Aerodrome in Antarctica.

Operation Southern Discovery is the ADF's contribution to the whole-of-government, Department of Environment and Energy-led activity in the Antarctic Region – the Australian Antarctic Program (AAP).

The operation is an enduring peace-time activity in support of Australia's national interests, which are based on the region's scientific, environmental, strategic and economic importance. ADF involvement in the AAP is consistent with the Antarctic Treaty's prohibition of any military activity other than the provision of personnel/equipment in support of scientific or other peaceful purposes.

The Operation Southern Discovery Area of Operations covers approximately 7 per cent of the world's surface and includes Antarctic locations, the Southern Ocean south of 60 degrees south, the internationally recognised Australian EEZ of Macquarie Island as well as Heard Island, McDonald Island (HIMI) and the superjacent airspace.

The C-17A Globemaster III loading Squirrel Helicopters on Wilkins Runway Antarctica.

ADF resources regularly allocated to Operation Southern Discovery include:

  • Air Force C17A Globemaster III aircraft providing a logistics air bridge from Hobart to Wilkins Aerodrome in Antarctica and return;
  • Navy Hydrographic capabilities to ensure safety of marine navigation and assist scientific research;
  • Australian Army Geospatial Survey capabilities assisting infrastructure projects and airfield surveys;
  • Navy Meteorological capabilities providing weather forecasting and climate research and analysis; and
  • Other niche ADF capabilities as requested from time to time.