The Australian Defence Force’s CH-47 “Chinook” helicopters returned to duty in Southern Afghanistan, providing medium lift transport capability to Australian and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) units.
The helicopters will be operated by the men and women of Rotary Wing Group 7 (RWG 7) who recently commenced their deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation SLIPPER.
Commander of Australia’s Joint Task Force 633 in the Middle East, Major General Stuart Smith said the helicopters were a major addition to ISAF rotary wing capability in southern Afghanistan.
“The troops of Rotary Wing Group 7 are experienced and their CH-47s are historically important helicopters for supporting coalition forces – moving thousands of passengers and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of freight during their annual rotation,” Major General Smith said.
Embedded with the United States 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, known as Task Force Wings, RWG 7 will provide medium lift helicopter support to ISAF missions throughout Uruzgan, Daykundi, Kandahar and Zabul Provinces.
Commanding Officer of RWG 7, Lieutenant Colonel Scott Nicholls said the team was excited to be back on operations in support of Australian and ISAF troops.
“Rotary Wing Group 7 had an extensive preparation before deploying to Afghanistan, not only flying but also conducting simulation activities,” Lieutenant Colonel Nicholls said.
“Since being in Afghanistan, we’ve actually conducted significant training, local area familiarisation by day and night and integrating with our US Task Force,” he added.
Traditionally, the two CH-47D helicopters are dismantled and transported back to Australian for deep level maintenance over the Afghan winter period. This past winter, the helicopters remained in Kandahar for scheduled deep level maintenance.
This resulted in savings by not breaking the aircraft down for transport to Australia and as well as saving fuel and flying hours for Royal Australian Air Force C‑17 aircraft.
The in-theatre maintenance was supervised by an experienced team of Army technical personnel to ensure it met stringent Australian technical airworthiness requirements.
RWG 7 is made up of approximately 60 personnel primarily from the Townsville-based 5th Aviation Regiment and from across the ADF.
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