Claims that RAAF halted ‘air strikes’ in Syria misleading/wrong

Recent reporting in mainstream media across the globe claiming that “RAAF halts air strikes over Syria after Russia threat” are misleading – in so far as the RAAF has not conducted ‘air strikes’ in Syria since February.

“RAAF halts combat missions over Syria” is a more accurate headline – but not when supported by a photo of an F/A-18.

Throughout 2016, Australian fighter jets conducted a total of 16 sorties over Syria, dropping a total of 22 bombs – compared to 900 sorties and 796 bombs dropped on Iraq.

This year, our fighters dropped 16 bombs during a total of four sorties over Syria – all of them in February – compared to 390 bombs on 372 sorties over Iraq in 2017 (correct up to 1 June).

That said, Australia’s Air Task Group has in fact been active over Syria in recent months, but only with our E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platform and our KC-30A in-air-refuelling tanker.

In fact, both aircraft types – but the Wedgetail in particular – have spent more time in Syrian airspace than Iraqi.

RAAF’s E-7A Wedgetail has flow a total of 52 sorties this year, entering Syrian airspace 50 times – and the KC-30A has flown 104 sorties, entering Syrian airspace 58 times (to 1 June).

The KC-30A also set an impressive milestone recently when it flew it 1000th sortie in the Middle East – offloading nearly 80,000,000 pounds (36,000 tonnes) of fuel since operations began in September 2014.

  • FUNNY FOOTNOTE: Defence’s stats page for ATG operations in 2016 says the KC-30A offloaded a total of 3,052,201.4 pounds of fuel – despite every month except December being well above 2million.
    • and where did the .4 come from – ‘the smell of an oily rag’ perhaps
      • actually, it’s just a misplaced decimal – but what’s 27million pounds of fuel between friends

 

 

Air Task Group (ATG) – 2017 Statistics

ATG Operations

F/A-18A IRAQ
Month Sorties Hours Munitions
Jan-17 78 604.9 54
Feb-17 64 516.6 55
Mar-17 78 611.1 102
Apr-17 72 551.8 60
May-17 80 666.4 119
Total 372 2950.8 390

 

F/A-18 SYRIA
Month Sorties Hours Munitions
Jan-17 0 0 0
Feb-17 4 24 16
Mar-17 0 0 0
Apr-17 0 0 0
May-17 0 0 0
Total 4 24 16

 

E-7A IRAQ/SYRIA
Month Sorties Hours Entered Syrian Airspace
Jan-17 11 138.3 11
Feb-17 10 128.1 10
Mar-17 11 143.4 11
Apr-17 10 118.8 10
May-17 10 123.7 8
Total 52 652.3 50

 

KC-30A IRAQ/SYRIA
Month Sorties Hours Fuel (lbs) Entered Syrian airspace
Jan-17 21 171.6 1,808,000 5
Feb-17 25 173.6 1,364,700 9
Mar-17 29 209.2 1,802,620 18
Apr-17 29 201.1 2,198,400 12
May-17 29 226 2,223,750 14
Total 104 755.5 7,173,720 58

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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