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Second RAAF Air Task Group to deploy to the Middle East

written by australianaviation.com.au | January 6, 2015
Operation OKRA
The three aircraft types deployed as part of the RAAF’s Air Task Group fly in formation – a KC-30, two Super Hornets and a Wedgetail – in a December 23 dated image. (FLTLT Harry Hayes/Defence)
Operation OKRA
Another image of the three aircraft types deployed as part of the RAAF’s Air Task Group. (FLTLT Harry Hayes/Defence)

The RAAF is to shortly replace its Air Task Group (ATG) which is deployed to Al Minhad Air Base, UAE, from where it is has been taking part in anti-ISIL combat operations over Iraq as part of Operation Okra.

Ahead of their return home to Australia some of the 400-personnel strong first Air Task Group were visited by Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binksin in early January.

“You are handing over the air component in good shape for continued air strike, command-and-control and air-to-air refuelling operations into 2015,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said in a January 6 statement.

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 “I believe our ATG is the best-equipped, best-trained and most-prepared air contingent Australia has ever sent on operations and the tireless efforts and professionalism of our people is reflected in the results.”

A Defence spokesperson confirmed to Australian Aviation that: “Personnel assigned to the first Australian Air Task Group are currently preparing to return home to Australia and will rotate out over the coming weeks as a second deployment of RAAF personnel arrive in the MER (Middle East Region).”

The Defence spokesperson also confirmed that “The second deployment of RAAF personnel will continue to operate the same aircraft types over Iraq. The aircraft are not being rotated with the personnel.”

The Air Task Group is operating six F/A-18F Super Hornets supported by one KC-30A tanker-transport and a E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft. An increasing rate of effort in December saw the Super Hornets drop 61 guided weapons (GPS-guided GBU-38 JDAMs and laser-guided GBU-12s) against ISIL targets, while in the same month the KC-30 offloaded over three million pounds of fuel to Coalition aircraft.

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The Air Task Group began operations over Iraq in September, with the first combat mission taking place in early October.

Command of the Air Task Group has already been transferred from Air Commodore Steve Roberton to Air Commodore Glenn Braz in a small ceremony held on January 5.

Operation Okra
AIRCDRE Steve Roberton (left) hands over command of the RAAF Air Task Group to AIRCDRE Glen Braz. (Defence)

 

ATG operations statistics

September

Aircraft

Sorties

Hours

Munitions/Fuel (lbs)

E-7 2 9 N/A
KC-30 2 5 8,000
F/A-18F 4 20 Nil
October

Aircraft

Sorties

Hours

Munitions/Fuel (lbs)

E-7 21 276 N/A
KC-30 29 231 2,438,943
F/A-18F 79 638 25
November

Aircraft

Sorties

Hours

Munitions/Fuel (lbs)

E-7 15 195 N/A
KC-30 34 269 2,431,199
F/A-18F 62 498 49
December

Aircraft

Sorties

Hours

Munitions/Fuel (lbs)

E-7 14 144 N/A
KC-30 37 286 3,152,424
F/A 18F 75 606 61

 

Source: Dept of Defence

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7 Comments

  • Michael

    says:

    I’m assuming the aircraft themselves stay then? Anyone know how long they can stay in theatre before needing to be swapped over for maintenance in Australia?

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Hi Michael, our story has now been updated with confirmation from Defence that the aircraft are remaining in the Middle East.

  • marc

    says:

    @Michael:
    The ADF maintains a facility at Al Minhad, UAE (25k’s south of Dubai).
    There’s also Al Udeid Air Base (Abu Naklah Airport). A military (US/UK/Qatar) base west of Doha, Qatar.

  • Michael

    says:

    Thanks Marc. I was thinking more along the lines of deep maintenance activities needing to be performed on each airframe that would take each asset out of service for weeks or months. I’m assuming this won’t be required for a long time then.

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    Some amazing stats there – a single KC-30 flying 30+ sorties for three months in a row and offloading ~8m pounds of fuel is an awesome effort. BZ ATG & 33SQN/AMG!

    Andrew McLaughlin

  • William

    says:

    It will be awesome once the KC-30 can use its boom for refuelling.

  • Captain

    says:

    Great pictures!!

    How many trips could you make to the moon with all that fuel??

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