The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Air Task Group (ATG) has clocked up 3,500 hours of combat operations during which it has destroyed 61 targets after 100 days of playing its part in the international effort to disrupt and degrade the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The ATG has been conducting regular combat and support missions over Iraq since October, as well as assisting with coalition operations.
“We have helped the Iraqi ground forces halt [the ISIL] advance, and coalition air forces continue to apply relentless pressure,” Commander of the Air Task Group Air Commodore Glen Braz stated on January 15.
Over the past 100 days, Australian crews have led a multinational airstrike that destroyed an ISIL bomb factory and uncovered a complex bunker system that they later attacked, according to Defence. The ATG also disrupted attempts to divert water from major dams and ensured that water flowed to where it was needed.
In addition to conducting combat air patrols, Australian F/A-18F Super Hornets have provided air support for the Iraqi security forces as they have fought to maintain control of infrastructure and key facilities across the country. And the ATG recently provided direct support for Kurdish ground forces.
Air Commodore Braz pointed out that the contribution under Operation OKRA extends beyond airstrikes, with the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft offloading almost 4,000 tonnes of fuel during this rotation.
“The Australian KC-30A tanker aircraft has been a crucial force-multiplier as it allows combat aircraft to remain over the combat zone through air-to-air refuelling,” he said. “The versatile Aussie tanker regularly refuels coalition as well as Australian aircraft.”
The E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platform has responsibility for the command and control of all coalition aircraft within a battle management area that covers most of the airspace above Iraq.
Crews regularly manage more than 80 combat aircraft during a single mission, and the Wedgetail recently achieved the longest-ever Australian command-and-control air mission in a war zone at 16.3 hours, Defence said.