The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, presented a Meritorious Unit Citation to members of the Royal Australian Air Force Heron UAV operators, Number 5 Flight, during an investiture ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, on 12 September 2016.
CAPTION: Heron mission control, Kandahar, Afghanistan. Photo by Brian Hartigan
From January 2010 to November 2014, Number 5 Flight, operating as Task Unit 633.2.7 in Afghanistan, achieved outstanding mission success with the RAAF’s first Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, the Heron aircraft.
The Governor-General presented the Meritorious Unit Citation Warrant to the unit at a ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley, which was also attended by the Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies.
“Members of this Task Unit provided outstanding service in one of the most difficult, dangerous and hostile conflicts ever to confront Australia’s military,” the Governor-General said.
“This Meritorious Unit Citation is about recognising the critical role these Australian Defence Force members played in the successful planning and execution of missions in support of Australian, Coalition and Afghan National Army operations on the ground in Afghanistan.”
Approximately 500 Air Force, Army and Navy personnel who were deployed as part of the Task Unit were recognised with the citation in the Australia Day 2016 Honours, many of whom were in attendance for the Investiture.
The Heron aircraft completed more than 27,000 mission hours during Operation SLIPPER.
The Heron flew its final mission from Kandahar Air Field on 30 November 2014.
Air Force currently operates two Heron aircraft from RAAF Base Amberley.
The Heron is flown by Air Force with fully qualified military pilots who have extensive experience on both manned and remotely piloted aircraft.