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RAAF classic Hornets deploy to Maple Flag

A pair of F/A-18A Hornets from Air Task Group 630 Strike Element flying in the Middle East Region during an Operation Okra mission. *** Local Caption *** Number 75 Squadron F/A-18A aircraft refuelling from a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft, in support of Iraq Security Forces in the battle for Mosul, during the Squadron’s deployment in 2016. The Air Task Group (ATG) of Operation OKRA, is operating at the request of the Iraqi Government within a US-led international coalition assembled to disrupt and degrade Daesh operations in the Middle East Region (MER). The ATG comprises six RAAF F/A-18A Hornet fighter aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail airborne command and control aircraft, and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport air-to-air refuelling aircraft. Additionally, the ATG has personnel working in the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre, and embedded with the ‘Kingpin’ US tactical Command and Control Unit. The ATG is directly supported by elements of Operation ACCORDION including the Theatre Communications Group, Air Mobility Task Group, and the Combat Support Unit, whose mission is to provide airbase and aviation operational support to sustain air operations in the MER. There are up to 350 personnel deployed, at any one time, as part of, or in direct support of the ATG.

A 2016 file photo of two 75SQN classic Hornets overhead Kuwait City during Operation Okra. (Defence)

Eight F/A-18A/B classic Hornets from the RAAF’s 75SQN have deployed to Cold Lake AFB in Alberta, Canada to participate in Exercise Maple Flag.

The exercise, from June 11 to 22 is a complex international training event which this year will involve the air forces of Canada, Belgium, Brazil, France, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the US, and Australia.

“Exercise Maple Flag offers our people realistic training within a complex operating environment that is both challenging and constantly evolving,” detachment commander and commanding officer 75SQN, WGCDR Michael Grant said in a statement.

“There are immense benefits to training as we mean to fight, and so often we fight as part of a combined or coalition force which means training opportunities like this are invaluable to our operational readiness.”

Training scenarios at Maple Flag include command and control, air-to-air and air-to-surface combat, air-to-air refuelling, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, tactical airlift, tactical aviation, and close air support.

75SQN will continue to operate its classic Hornets until 2022 when it will be the last 81WG squadron to transition to the F-35A Lightning II.