First Air Task Group prepares to return to Australia
6 January 2015
The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, has congratulated Australian Defence Force personnel engaged in the fight against terrorism, during a recent visit to the Middle East Region.
“You have played a key role in Australia's response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq brought about by ISIL’s brutality against the people of Iraq and Syria,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
“Your skill, professionalism and responsiveness has also greatly enhanced the ADF's reputation among our Coalition partners.”
The visit included a stop-over with Royal Australian Air Force personnel assigned to the first Australian Air Task Group (ATG) who are approaching the end of their deployment on Operation OKRA and preparing to return to Australia.
Approximately 400 ADF personnel are deployed with the ATG operating RAAF F/A?18F Super Hornets, E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control and the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.
Since October 2014, Australian and Coalition air strike operations have supported Iraqi Security Force ground operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The ATG's rate of effort continued to increase during December with the Super Hornets flying 75 sorties and dropping 61 precision guided weapons against ISIL targets. The KC-30A also achieved a new milestone, providing more than three million pounds (1429 tonnes) of fuel to Coalition aircraft during the month. This brings the total fuel offloaded from the single KC-30A to an impressive 3642 tonnes during this rotation.
A second deployment of RAAF personnel will continue to operate the same aircraft types over Iraq.
“You are handing over the air component in good shape for continued air strike, command and control and air to air refuelling operations into 2015,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
“I believe our ATG is the best equipped, best trained and most prepared air contingent Australia has ever sent on operations and the tireless efforts and professionalism of our people is reflected in the results.”
The Chief of the Defence Force also visited members of the Australian Special Operations Task Group currently deployed in Iraq as well as ADF personnel based in the Middle East Region on Operation ACCORDION.
“Australians can be proud of the work our service men and women are conducting in an effort to counter terrorism and promote greater security and stability around the world - I know I am” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
Imagery is available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20150008.
Vision will be fed to the Press Gallery later today.
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