Australia — Chinooks return to the Afghan Skies

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. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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