Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel assigned to the first Air Task Group (ATG) are approaching the end of their deployment on Operation OKRA and preparing to return to Australia, Defence has announced.
About 400 ADF personnel are deployed with the ATG, which is operating F/A-18F Super Hornet, E-7A Wedgetail and KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft. A second deployment of RAAF personnel is set to continue operating the same aircraft types over Iraq, Defence confirmed.
Speaking during a visit to the Middle East, Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin stated: “You are handing over the air component in good shape for continued air strike, command-and-control and air-to-air refuelling operations into 2015. I believe our ATG is the best equipped, best trained and most prepared air contingent Australia has ever sent on operations, and the tireless efforts and professionalism of our people is reflected in the results.”
Defence stated that the ATG’s rate of effort continued to increase in December, with the Super Hornets flying 75 sorties and dropping 61 precision-guided weapons on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets. The KC-30A provided more than three million pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft during the month.
Air Chief Marshal Binskin also visited members of the Australian Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) that are currently deployed in Iraq, as well as ADF personnel that are based in the Middle East under the auspices of Operation ACCORDION.