2015-02-14 Australia’s Air Task Group (ATG) consisting of six RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft continue to support Operation OKRA with missions in Iraq.
Nearly 400 personnel have deployed to the Middle East as part, or in direct support, of the Air Task Group.
Australia’s efforts are in response to a request for assistance by the Iraqi Government in combating ISIL terrorists.
Operation OKRA is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the international effort to combat the ISIL terrorist threat in Iraq.
Australia’s contribution is being closely coordinated with the Iraqi government, Gulf nations and a broad coalition of international partners.
Australian Ministry of Defence
For an update on the evolution of the Air Mobility group see our two interviews with the current AMG commander and his predecessor:
According to Air Commodore McDonald:
Operation Okra has accelerated the maturing process of the KC-30A.
At the end of 2013, the squadron was transferred from a project focused Transition Team to Number 86 Wing – and in doing so was placed directly into the hands of the war fighter. In 2014 the Wing, in conjunction with the project office, addressed the training and key operational issues that were preventing the full utilization of the KC-30A.
The shift in operational focus, as a result of transferring the KC-30A to the Wing, is reflected in the increase in AAR from 40% to 75%.
The deployment to the Middle East has also accelerated the certification of aircraft able to be tanked by the KC-30A.
In three months, we have dramatically increased the number of aircraft certified.
This would not have happened without the press of events and the operational tempo associated with the deployment.
It is the tanker of choice in Iraq we are being told by coalition partners.