Last Aus­tralian Air Force Heron de­tach­ment re­turns from Afghanistan


After a five-year com­mit­ment in Afghanistan, the last con­tin­gent of Royal Aus­tralian Air Force (RAAF), Navy and Army per­son­nel sup­port­ing the Heron re­motely pi­loted air­craft (RPA) de­tach­ment re­turned home to Aus­tralia re­cently.

Heron air­craft have com­pleted more than 27,000 mis­sion hours dur­ing Op­er­a­tion SLIP­PER at Kan­da­har Air­field pro­vid­ing in­tel­li­gence, surveil­lance and re­con­nais­sance support to Aus­tralian forces and In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity As­sis­tance Force (ISAF) part­ners in south­ern Afghanistan since Au­gust 2009.

Deputy Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Mar­shal Leo Davies wel­comed the per­son­nel in Dar­win be­fore they re­turned to their home ci­ties. “The men and women that have de­ployed with Heron should be very proud of what they have achieved for the ADF mis­sion in Afghanistan,” said Davies.

Fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of Aus­tralia’s mis­sion in Uruz­gan in De­cem­ber 2013, the Heron mis­sion was ex­tended to support ISAF mem­bers in Re­gional Com­mand – South, in­clud­ing support to the 2014 Afghan pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Heron is Air Force’s first un­manned aerial sys­tem (UAS) en­ter­ing ser­vice di­rectly into Afghanistan in July 2009 and fly­ing its fi­nal mis­sion there from Kan­da­har Air­field on Novem­ber 30, 2014.

One Heron RPA will re­turn to RAAF Base Woomera in South Aus­tralia in 2015, where another Heron is al­ready based, and th­ese air­craft will form the ba­sis of Air Force’s con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ment of UAS op­er­a­tions in support of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force.

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