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.