Thirty New Zealand Defence Force personnel and a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules strategic airlift aircraft left this morning to support New Zealand, Australian and coalition operations in the Middle East.
CAPTION: A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules takes off for a new mission in the Middle East. NZDF photo.
The aircraft and the supporting detachment were deployed today until mid-June at the request of the Australian Defence Force and will operate as part of their Air Mobility Task Group.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Tim Gall said the Hercules’ primary task was to transport people, equipment and supplies in support of New Zealand and Australian operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan and the Sinai Peninsula and may also support coalition operations in these countries.
He said the short-term deployment aimed to provide additional capacity during a period of high operational tempo.
“The upcoming mission also marks our latest contribution to security and stability in the Middle East and affirms our longstanding commitment in the region,” Major General Gall said.
This is the second time an RNZAF air transport team has been deployed to the Middle East in the past 12 months. A Hercules aircraft and a 32-member detachment were sent in May 2016 to provide logistics support to coalition operations for six months.
This latest detachment includes aircraft technicians, logistics specialists, maintenance personnel and an air-movements load team to support coalition aircraft in the region.
Leading the air transport mission is Squadron Leader Brad Scott, from the northern Waikato town of Taupiri.
“I look forward to the opportunity and the challenges of commanding the mission,” Squadron Leader Scott said.
“This is the first time I will be leading a deployment and the positive reaction from my peers has been encouraging.”
Squadron Leader Scott has previously been deployed to the Middle East, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines and Timor-Leste.