An RAAF KC-30 tanker transport of 33SQN has returned to Australia after a four-month Operation Okra deployment to the Middle East supporting coalition anti-IS operations over Iraq and Syria, and has been replaced by an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft of 2SQN.
The KC-30 completed 75 missions while on the deployment, transferring 5.6 million pounds (about 2,540 tonnes) of fuel during 776 flying hours over Iraq and Syria, Defence said on Thursday.
“The reliability and large air-to-air refuelling capability of the KC-30A has given the Coalition persistence and efficiency in the fight against Daesh,” Commander of the Australian Air Task Element, Wing Commander Craig Stallard said.
Since September 2014, the RAAF had maintained a single KC-30A from Amberley-based 33SQN in the Persian Gulf region to support an Australian Air Task Group and coalition aircraft on combat operations up into Iraq and Syria.
The KC-30 was initially part of a larger ATG contingent comprising RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets and F/A-18A classic Hornets and an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft, with the fighters withdrawn at the start of 2018.
Meanwhile, a RAAF Wedgetail arrived in the Middle East in early October and is now being used to control the tactical movement of aircraft over Iraq and Syria.
“Coinciding with the return to Australia of the KC-30A, an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft arrived in the Middle East in early October,” Defence said.
“The Australian Defence Force deploys the Wedgetail and the KC-30A to the Middle East on a rotational basis as part of Australia’s contribution to the fight against Daesh.”
While deployed in the Middle East the RAAF aircraft operate from Al Minhad Air Base (AMAB) near Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.