Control of the RAAF’s 5 Flight, which operates the Heron surveillance UAV in Afghanistan, has been transferred from Air Combat Group to Surveillance and Response Group (SRG).
At the time the Heron capability was stood up in January 2010, Air Combat Group was deemed the most suitable FEG (Force Element Group) for the nascent UAV operation due to the SRG and Air Lift Group FEG’s high operational tempo. Now with Air Combat Group needing increased resources as it looks to introduce the EA-18G Growler electronic attack capability, 5FLT has been transferred to SRG.
“There are some great synergies between Heron’s current ISR capability in Afghanistan and SRG, largely because of the AP-3C’s significant and stellar record in conducting ISR in the MEAO since 2003,” 5FLT CO Wing Commander Jonathan McMullan told the Air Force newspaper.
“The Heron is providing a superior intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance product for Australian troops and coalition forces on a daily basis, routinely flying 20-plus-hour missions.”
5FLT operates thee Herons in Afghanistan and a fourth based at Woomera, SA for flying training, and has flown more than 16,000 hours with the type since 2010.
“Now that 5FLT is at that mature stage and training has been significantly improved, we are looking forward to our future in SRG and helping develop plans for Air Force’s remotely pilot aircraft ISR capability beyond Afghanistan,” noted WGCDR McMullan.
5FLT’s transfer to SRG took effect on April 4.