The Australian Defence Force’s air operations capability
has returned to Afghanistan to support International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations for 2011. The Rotary Wing Group recently commenced full operational duties.
Commanding Officer of the Rotary Wing Group, Lieutenant Colonel Neil Monaghan, said that this partnership had great impact in terms of strengthening the relationship with Coalition partners.
"The Australian contribution, although small in comparison to the American aviation assets, is considered an integral part of ISAF and the mission is an important element in the Coalition effort in Afghanistan," Lieutenant Colonel Monaghan said.
Since their first deployment in 2006, the Australian Chinooks have been highly valued on the battlefield and are well suited to operations in Afghanistan’s traditionally harsh environment.
The CH-47D, "Chinook" helicopter is an aircraft with a lift capability of 12,000 kilograms, allowing it to counter aircraft performance issues sometimes encountered in mountainous terrain and landing zones at high elevations.
The Task Group from 5 Aviation Regiment returned to Australia in October 2010 for the Afghan winter to undertake mandatory maintenance and a well earned break after completing over 737 flying hours and having moved in excess of 691,000 kilograms of supplies.
Now back in Kandahar, Australian CH-47Ds are embedded with the United States Army’s 159th Combat Aviation Brigade and have conducted trial missions and maintenance to ensure the helicopters and crew are well prepared for the Afghan summer ahead.
CH-47D Pilot, Captain Tye Masterson said the type of missions flown by Coalition helicopters ranged from moving passengers and cargo around bases to providing tactical air mobility in support of ISAF operations in southern Afghanistan.
"The majority of our missions involve Australian and US helicopters and we often support Australian forces on the ground as well as Americans and Afghans," Captain Masterson said.