Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail and KC-30A multi-role tanker transport aircraft will return to Australia following their final mission of a successful year-long deployment.
FILE PHOTO: Surveillance and control officers man their terminals on a Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail aircraft in the Middle East. Photo by Corporal Tristan Kennedy.
The aircraft have been operating in the Middle East Region as part of Australia’s Air Task Group 630, performing airborne command and control and air-to-air refuelling.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said she was extremely proud of the contribution made by the Australian Defence Force as part of the Coalition to defeat Daesh in Iraq.
“Australia is a strong and consistent contributor to the Coalition, and has been engaged since 2014 as part of our global responsibility to support peace and security operations,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Since the start of the threat posed by Daesh to peace and stability in Iraq, the Coalition has liberated nearly 110,000 square kilometres and around 7.7 million Iraqis are free from Daesh oppression.
“As the year-long deployment comes to an end, I commend the crews, personnel and supporting Defence staff for their dedication, resilience and ongoing professionalism, as we work with our global Coalition partners.”
Commander of Joint Task Force 633 Major General Susan Coyle said the deployment of the aircraft provided key capabilities to Coalition forces in the region.
“We have been able to provide increased situational awareness across the battlespace and provide air-to-air refuelling to enable Coalition aircraft to continue the fight against Daesh,” Major General Coyle said.
“Ongoing support for the Coalition continues through Australian Defence Force personnel embedded in the Coalition headquarters in the Middle East.”
While the minister’s press release issued on 9 September said “the aircraft, aircrew and support staff will commence the return journey to Australia from the Middle East in the coming days” – an incidental story on the Defence web site published the same day suggested they were already home.
All Defence personnel returning to Australia will isolate for 14 days to eliminate the risk of spreading COVID-19.