Aussie Wedgetail coming home after Ukraine mission

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail aircraft will commence its return to Australia this week after a six-month deployment on Operation Kudu.

CAPTION: Surveillance and control officers at their terminals on a Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail aircraft deployed on Operation Kudu in Germany. Image has been digitally altered for security purposes. Photo by Corporal Nicole Dorrett.

The E-7A supported the multinational effort to provide early warning for potential threats from Russia outside of Ukraine.

In providing a rapid response option, the E-7A Wedgetail contingent flew around 250 hours with missions averaging five hours in the air.

Up to 100 Australian Defence Force personnel were also deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in support of the E-7A’s mission.

Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton applauded the ADF personnel’s work supporting the protection of a vital gateway of international humanitarian and military assistance into Ukraine.

“The deployment was a tangible demonstration of Australia’s commitment to supporting our partners in upholding the global rules-based order,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman said the E-7A Wedgetail was one of the most advanced airborne early warning systems in the world and was well-suited to the task of providing support to the vital gateway.

“I commend our people on their hard work and commitment, channelling our ethos of being a ready, resilient and resourceful force,” Air Marshal Robert Chipman said.

“I wish all our returning personnel a safe journey home and an enjoyable time reconnecting with family and friends.”

Australia’s military assistance to Ukraine will continue under the expanded training element of Operation Kudu, which comprises up to 90 personnel providing training to Armed Forces of Ukraine personnel in the UK throughout 2024.

Commander of the Task Element Wing Commander Darrin Lindsay said the mission success rate was equal to similar missions in Iraq and Syria.

“I’m really proud of what the crew has been able to achieve, and to hear Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton say that he’d been receiving praise and heightened interest in the superior capabilities of Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail on a visit to Europe is really pleasing to hear,” Wing Commander Lindsay said.

Lieutenant General Bilton visited Ramstein Air Base on March 17 and thanked the deployed contingent for their dedication to the mission.

“Your deployment and your work here has been welcomed and commented on at the highest levels during my visit to Europe.

“You have built a strong reputation within NATO that I’m sure that they’ll want to see more of the platform,” Lieutenant General Bilton told the contingent.

Wing Commander Lindsay said the deployment to Germany was an opportunity for the RAAF to complement other Operation Kudu missions, such as the training and logistical supply mission to provide protection of the logistic hubs.

“It is a testament to how well the team have come together that the reputation of the E-7A Wedgetail has flourished across Europe,” he said.

Deputy Commander United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Lieutenant General John D. Lamontagne also visited the Australian contingent during their deployment and boarded the E-7A Wedgetail for a flight.

Lieutenant General Lamontagne said partnering with the Australians on the Eastern Flank had been invaluable.

“The E-7A Wedgetail has significantly enhanced our situational awareness and bolstered interoperability with advanced command and control aircraft,” he said.

“I want to extend my gratitude to the Aussies and Wing Commander Darrin Lindsay and team for their exceptional service.”

Also during this deployment, in a first for the Wedgetail, the Australian contingent tested and implemented new de-icing and anti-icing procedures.

Wing Commander Lindsay said that was a massive accomplishment before Christmas.

“The team were able to produce, test and verify publications for cold weather operations within weeks of establishment in Germany,” he said.

“This documentation will now stand ready for the next E-7A operations within a cold environment.

“In establishing a footprint here, bringing in a lot of equipment, using that equipment and integrating with US personnel and equipment, we’ve all had to overcome subtle differences of work styles and culture – it’s to everyone’s credit that they were able to do that.

“The team formed as one operating unit even though our people here come from units across Canberra, Adelaide and mostly Newcastle.

“Those external to 2 Squadron have melded right into the team and together they had grown a community here at Ramstein that supports the E-7A.

“We can take home a lot of good lessons regarding integrating with new nations.

“Initially, it presents challenges but then similarities appear and integration can occur, whether its maintenance workforce or aircrew, we are all taking home lessons learned.”

Wing Commander Lindsay said the crew were also thankful for opportunities to get out and about and meet the locals and see some of the surrounding countryside.

“It’s been a great opportunity to come to Europe, understand the European culture, integrate with the civilians and military within Germany and other nations nearby, which we don’t have the opportunity to do normally in Australia due to the size and tyranny of distance,” he said.

“As we now reflect upon our critical enabling role here in Germany, understanding the great accomplishments the team have achieved, I wish to recognise the continued support and sacrifices our family and friends have made.

“Each team member has forgone key moments with family and friends over the past few months to achieve the successes here in Germany.”

 

 


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Posted by Brian Hartigan

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

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