Minister for Defence Stephen Smith, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon and Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly have congratulated Air Force C-130 Hercules personnel on 10 years of continuous deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO).
On 11 February 2003, the first two C-130H Hercules aircraft arrived in the MEAO to support Operation Bastille in the Persian Gulf. Since then, a continuous deployment of Hercules transport aircraft has supported Defence Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as humanitarian relief tasks within the region.
In 10 years, the RAAF Hercules have transported 220,200 passengers and 43,000 tonnes of cargo in the Middle East and flown more than 4600 missions in conditions ranging from well below freezing to more than 50 degrees Celsius.
More than 1000 Air Force personnel have been deployed to provide direct support to the Hercules detachment. The Hercules fleet have been ably supported by Defence and industry to ensure these aircraft can be flown safely and effectively.
Today, the deployment consists of two C-130J Hercules based at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, and a detachment of around 50 personnel.
Milestone missions by Hercules crews include:
- Airdrops and support to Australian units in Iraq in 2003, including a mission on April 14 when an Australian C-130H became the first Coalition aircraft to land at Al Asad Air Base, following its capture by Australian Special Forces units. The Hercules was an angel of mercy during Operation Baghdad Assist in April 2003.
- In September 2006, Hercules aircraft from the detachment in the Middle East were used to evacuate Australian citizens from Cyprus to Turkey under Operation Ramp, following the outbreak of hostilities in Lebanon.
- In 2010, the detachment of Air Force Hercules were part of Operation Pakistan Assist II, providing relief flights following devastating floods in that country.
Media note: Imagery of Air Force C-130s and crews in the MEAO can be found at: http://images.defence.gov.au/12132608
Mr Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999