US Secretary of State & Secretary of Defense Sydney Visit

By Grahame Hutchison on Sunday, 4th June 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are visiting Sydney for the annual AUSMIN security and foreign affairs talks to be held on Monday 5th June. During the evening on Sunday 4th June, a Boeing E4-B (Advanced Airborne Command Post), C-17A Globemaster III transport, Boeing 757-200, and two Boeing 737-700's arrived between 19:30 and 22:00 hours local time.


Boeing E-4B (Advanced Airborne Command Post) - 74-0787 1974 Build

Operated by up to 112 crew members, this aircraft is a modified Boeing 747-200B which serves as a mobile command post for The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defence. Only four E4-B's are in operation by the 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron of the USAF. It is designed to survive Electromagnetic Pulses (which are produced by nuclear explosions), and is fitted with a variety of direct fire countermeasures. With the capability of air-to-air refuelling, the E4-B is capable of operating in the air continuously until engine lubricants run out. Two fully loaded KC-135 tankers are required to refill the E4-B's fuel tanks. The aircraft has three operational decks:

74-0787 taxiing on Runway 25

74-0787 taxied to the DOM6 to offload the crew

74-0787 parked on the DOM6 Apron to unload

74-0787's electric airstair is the main entry and exit for the aircraft, located on the front starboard side of the aircraft, and extends from the lower deck.

74-0787 has a 8km Trailing Wire Antenna (TWA) fitted to the tail above the APU exhaust (Orange and White Cone)

Close up's of the nose of 74-0787 after being towed to the Bay 94, to free up parking space on DOM 6 for the Boeing 757-200 & Boeing 737's

USAF VC-32A (Boeing 752) 98-0002 after arriving at the DOM6 Apron

Boeing 737-700's - 01-0015 and 01-0041 side-by-side on the DOM6 Apron

While the Secretary Of State and Secretary Of Defense were attending the AUSMIN meeting in Sydney, a beautiful sunny day provided a good opportunity to photograph the aircraft in daylight, before the E-4B and C-17 departed on Monday evening.

The "bulge" on the top is a radome houses a steerable SHF SATCOM antenna.

All the windows are blocked out to protect against Electromagnetic Pulses, and the cockpit windows shield the crew from radiation.

There is a large array of antennas and defensive systems all over the E4-B. A VLF Towed Aerial Cable can be extended from underneath the aircraft.

There is an 8km Trailing Wire Antenna (TWA) attached to the small Orange and White cone on the E4-B tail.

The small bulge behind the large SHF SATCOM dome is a navigation antenna.

The bulge forward of the cockpit windows is for mid-air refueling, and it takes to KC-135s to fill the tanks.

The large lower deck door is the main entry to the E4-B.

An impressive display of USAF aircraft.

98-0002 USAF VC-32A (Boeing 757-2G4) 1998 Build

01-0041 USAF C-40B (Boeing B737-7DM/W BBJ) 2002 Build

C40 01-0041 squeezed in between the E-4B and the Perimeter Security Fence.

09-9205 USAF C-17A 2010 Build - I didn't see the C-17 unload, however it would normally carry a number of vehicles and a security detail.

The C-17 maximum payload is 77,519 kilos, and its maximum gross takeoff weight is 585,000 265,352 kilos. Unrefueled range of approximately 2,400 nautical miles, with a cruise speed of 450 knots.

The C-17 is 53 meters long, with a wingspan of 51.75 meters. The aircraft is powered by four, fully reversible, Federal Aviation Administration-certified F117-PW-100 engines (the military designation for the commercial Pratt & Whitney PW2040), currently used on the Boeing 757. Each engine is rated at 40,440 pounds of thrust. The thrust reversers direct the flow of air upward and forward to avoid ingestion of dust and debris.

The C-17 is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and equipment.


The Secretary Of Defense James Mattis was scheduled to depart on Monday evening around 2100L, and preparations were already underway at 1830L. The E-4B call the Tower and asked if their departure clearance would still be ok, as the Secretary Of State was running about 30-40 minutes late - ATC responded with "No Problems". As the motorcade approached, Ross Smith Avenue was closed to traffic to allow unhindered access right to the waiting aircraft. The C-17 was also being prepared for departure on Bay 90.


74-0787 Engine start and waiting for a taxi clearance. The E-4B taxied straight out onto Runway 25, and then onto Taxiway ALFA for the ALFA 6 Holding Point. ATC gave them a "Clear To Takeoff" and they departed off Runway 34L. C-17 01-0192 pushedback and taxied via GOLF for the same departure.

Both the C-40B (Boeing B737-700 aircraft), 01-0041 and 01-0015 departed for Pago Pago by 1400L on Tuesday 6th June 2017, and VC-32A (Boeing B757-200) departed late that evening.


98-0002 - Parked on the DOM 6 Apron all afternoon in the beautiful sunshine

Share this Article: