Two RAAF AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft are heading home after nearly a decade deployed to the Middle East.
RAAF Edinburgh-based Number 92 Wing has had Orions deployed to the Middle East since 2003 which have conducted ISR operations over Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the North Arabian Sea. Most recently, the aircraft have patrolled the coast of Somalia as part of international counter-piracy missions.
“The Middle East deployment witnessed the aircraft’s role expand from being almost exclusively maritime-focussed to becoming an invaluable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset supporting land operations,” Defence Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement. “One of the aircraft’s main roles was to transmit real-time surveillance video to ground force commanders in order to provide them with essential situational awareness.”
Mr Smith said an increased availability of reconnaissance resources had brought the Orion’s deployment to an end after some 2,400 missions.
About 3,500 members of Number 92 Wing have rotated through the Middle East as part of the wing’s deployment. The final 90 personnel are expected to return to Australia along with the two aircraft over the next few months.