Under direction from a RAAF loadmaster, American and Australian load team members load a shipment of guided bombs onto a RAAF C-17A Globemaster in the Middle East to feed an increase in operational tempo under Operation Okra.
Australia’s Air Task Group has increased its strikes against Daesh, in support of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga retaking Sinjar.
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At the request of the Iraqi government, Task Group 630, the Air Task Group of Operation Okra, is operating within a US-led international coalition assembled to disrupt and degrade Daesh operations.
Recently, Australian Special Forces and RAAF aircraft were directly involved in Iraq’s retaking of the key town of Ramadi – read more here.
Vice Admiral Johnston said Australian F/A-18A Hornets from the Air Task Group were vital in striking Daesh fighting positions that were hampering the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services to advance through Ramadi.
“Air Task Group Hornets conducted two missions on 22 and 29 December where five and two munitions were released respectively” he said.
“As a direct result of at least one attack, the Daesh fighters were silenced and the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services were able to continue with their clearance of central Ramadi.
“Overall, the Air Task Group has completed 99 missions and released 96 munitions since July for operations in Ramadi.”
Vice Admiral Johnston said Australian Special Operations Task Group advisors enabled more than 150 airstrikes in support of the Iraqi forces’ offensive on Ramadi, resulting in the destruction of some 50 Daesh fighting positions, 16 heavy machine guns and numerous vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.
“It is deeply satisfying to see how the Australian Special Operations Task Group in Iraq have supported 1st ISOF Brigade through the Advise and Assist mission.”
TG630 comprises six RAAF F/A-18 Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.
There are about 350 personnel deployed at any one time as part of or in direct support of the TG630.
Photos by Corporal Ben Dempster