The Australian Army’s detachment to Rotary Wing Group – Eight (RWG-8) has completed its mission in Afghanistan, marked by an end of mission ceremony at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) on September 14.
The KAF-based RWG consisted of two CH-47D Chinook medium lift helicopters operated throughout the Afghan summer months as part of the American-led Regional Command South Aviation Task Force.
Australian Army Aviation Task Groups have completed 11 tours in Afghanistan starting in 2006 as the Aviation Support Element. It was renamed Rotary Wing Group in 2008 and went on to complete eight rotations between 2008 and 2013. Over the 11 rotations of Army Combat Aviation, Chinook helicopters flew in excess of 6,000 combat flying hours, carried almost 40,000 personnel and transported in excess of 3,600 tonnes of military cargo. One Chinook also crashed while on deployment during 2011.
Numerous decorations have been awarded to Australian aircrew over the various deployments including the Medal for Gallantry, Distinguished Service Medal, the Meritorious Unit Citation for the 5th Aviation Regiment, several US Bronze Stars and multiple US Air Medals.
RWG personnel were drawn from across the Army Aviation community, though the majority deployed from the 5th Aviation Regiment in Townsville. The aircraft will return home to Australia by RAAF C-17 Globemaster aircraft in the coming month