Australian C-130J Deployment to Iraq
FORT WORTH, Texas, 01-SEP-04 -- Note to Editors: The office of Senator Robert Hill, Australian Minister for Defence, released the following information to the news media today, announcing the deployment of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-130J aircraft to operations in Iraq.
Air Force Personnel Farewelled to Iraq Operations
About 40 Royal Australian Air Force maintenance, aircrew and support personnel were officially farewelled today ahead of their deployment to operations in Iraq.
Prime Minister John Howard, Defence Minister Robert Hill, the member for Macquarie, Kerry Bartlett, and the Chief of Air Force, Angus Houston, and representatives of Defence industry joined families and other dignitaries at the ceremony at RAAF base Richmond.
The personnel from number 37 Squadron and two C-130J Hercules aircraft will replace those of 36 Squadron, who have been deployed in the Middle East since February last year. They will join the rest of the Hercules detachment, which totals approximately 150 personnel.
“The C-130 aircraft and personnel play an essential role in Australia’s continued support to the people of Iraq by providing air transport in and out of Baghdad,” Senator Hill said.
“In the last 18 months the Hercules have flown over 630 missions to transport almost 14,900 passengers, including almost 1000 medical patients, and more than 13.3 million pounds of cargo. This has included transporting our diplomats and the Iraqi Olympic team en route to Athens.”
This deployment marks the first service into Iraq for Australia’s new C-130J Hercules.
Senator Hill said Defence and industry had worked together closely to deliver the first phase of the $20 million C130J self-defensive suite to ensure that the crews and passengers of these aircraft have the best available protection from threats.
“This important capability has been conducted as a rapid acquisition project and has been delivered early, under budget and to the required level of quality, safety and operational capability,” Senator Hill said.
“Not only did the project deliver technical hardware but it ensured that the right training and systems were in place to support the new capability. This means the aircraft will be able to operate in a greater range of tasking and personnel will be better protected in what remains a dangerous operational environment.”
This rapid acquisition procedure is similar to that which was followed for the recent procurement of remote weapons systems for the ASLAV vehicles.
“These decisions demonstrate the Government’s commitment to provide our people who go into harm’s way with the very best protection,” Senator Hill said.
“The Government wishes the personnel well in their deployment and trusts they will undertake their duties with the professionalism and dedication we have come to expect from the Australian Defence Force.”