Australian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle mission in Uruzgan concludes
6 December 2013
The ADF’s Tactical Unmanned Aerial System's presence in Uruzgan province has officially ended, with the end of mission for Shadow Group - 3. Both personnel and equipment have returned to Australia, as the ADF mission in Uruzgan draws to a close.
The ADF has maintained the Tactical Unmanned Aerial System capability in the province since 2007, initially deploying the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. These were replaced in 2012 by the RQ-7B Shadow 200.
Shadow Group - 3 was the final deployment of personnel from the 20 Surveillance Target Acquisition Regiment, and consisted of gunners from 131 Battery, Royal Australian Artillery, Royal Australian Navy maintainers, personnel from the Australian Army Aviation Training Centre, civilian contractors and imagery analysts from the 1st Topographical Survey Squadron. The group deployed to Tarin Kot in April this year.
Major Dave Klomp, 131 Battery Commander, said the deployment was not just a great achievement for those who have operated the Shadow 200 in Afghanistan, but an amazing effort by all members of 20 Surveillance Target Acquisition, who have deployed in support of Operation SLIPPER since Unmanned Ariel System operations commenced.
“The 20 Surveillance Target Acquisition Regiment has been deployed here in Tarin Kot since 2007, which represents a huge commitment by the Regiment,” Major Klomp said.
“For many of those who have served with the Regiment, it has been a challenging six years maintaining the training and developing the capability and for many of us, there have been multiple deployments.”
Australia’s Middle East Area of Operations Commander, Major General Craig Orme of Joint Task Force 633, said the Tactical Unmanned Aerial System contributed significantly to the international community’s efforts in placing Afghanistan on a path to stability and future prosperity.
“Having just recently achieved the significant milestone of 10,000 operational hours, the Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial System has been at the forefront of providing an Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance capability in support of the ADF as well as our coalition partners,” Major General Orme said.
The Shadow 200 provided an enhanced capability to Coalition Forces, with greater fidelity of imagery by day and night; enhanced target acquisition using its laser sensors; and extending the range of ground force communications via its communications relay package.
Once Multi National Base - Tarin Kot closes by the end of this year, Australia will no longer have a permanent presence in Uruzgan province.
In 2014, Australia will continue to support the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan by training and advising Afghan National Security Forces in Kabul and Kandahar. ADF personnel will also contribute to staff positions within International Security Assistance Force Headquarters.
Additionally Australia has pledged to contribute to the post-2014 NATO-led ‘train, advise and assist’ mission.