Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft achieve Middle East milestone
3 February 2012
The Royal Australian Air Force’s AP-3C Orion detachment achieved a major milestone this week, marking nine years of continuous deployment in support of operations in the Middle East.
One of two Orion aircraft deployed in the Middle East marked the occasion with an over water mission in search of suspected pirates and smuggling operations over the Red Sea.
Among the aircrew flying this milestone flight, two were also members of the inaugural sortie on 28 January 2003. Flight Lieutenant Nathan Bunt (then a Sergeant Airborne Electronics Analyst) was the pilot in command of the AP-3C and Warrant Officer Richard Engel (then Flight Sergeant) was a senior Airborne Electronics Analyst.
Squadron Leader Jesse Laroche, commander of the AP-3C Task Unit, said the AP-3C operations were a team effort.
“The entire Task Unit always puts in their best effort to ensure we achieve an extremely high mission success rate and keep operations here safe and effective.
"To be able to do that day in and day out successfully for nine years is incredibly professionally rewarding,” Squadron Leader Laroche said.
In August 2011 the Orion achieved another remarkable feat, flying 20,000 hours of operational missions in the Middle East equating to 833 days of 24-hour operations or two and a quarter years of continuous flying.
“In 2012 our commitment now ranges from Afghanistan, in support of the International Security Assistance Force, to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa in support of maritime security and counter-piracy operations,” Squadron Leader Laroche said.
The two aircraft and most personnel are normally based at Edinburgh in South Australia and are currently deployed to the Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
Members of the AP-3C detachment are available for interview on request.
Imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003&search=11121952
Media contact: Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999