Minister for Defence Stephen Smith welcomed the homecoming today of the final AP-3C Orion aircraft to have served in the Middle East Area of Operations.
AP-3C Orion aircraft from Number 92 Wing, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh, South Australia, have provided nearly ten years of operational service in the Middle East.
AP-3C Orions first deployed to the Middle East in 2003 to provide an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to forces in the Middle East and proved to be extremely versatile.
The Middle East deployment witnessed the aircraft’s purpose expand from being almost exclusively maritime-focused to becoming an invaluable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset in the land environment, providing ground force commanders with essential situational awareness.
The AP-3C Orions conducted overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks in Afghanistan and Iraq and maritime patrols of the Arabian Gulf and North Arabian Sea.
More recently, Orions also conducted counter-piracy missions in the vicinity of Somalia, working closely with the US-led Combined Maritime Force and other International maritime anti-piracy task forces.
Throughout the almost decade-long deployment, approximately 3500 personnel deployed with AP-3C Orions on three to six month tours of duty.
During the deployment, Number 92 Wing has also maintained operational and training commitments in Australia, demonstrating the professionalism and dedication of all the Wing’s personnel in support of Australia’s national interests at home and abroad.
The Minister commended Number 92 Wing for their contribution to operations in the Middle East and thanked families and friends of members of 92 Wing for their support for their loved ones who deployed overseas during this period.
Hundreds of personnel who have deployed to the Middle East turned out to witness the final AP?3C Orion from the Middle East land at RAAF Base Edinburgh today, following a successful commitment as part of Operation SLIPPER.
Mr Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999