08/04/2015: During a visit to Australia in August 2015, Second Line of Defense had a chance to talk with senior RAFF personnel about the operations in Iraq and Syria.
There will be more to come as these interviews are completed, but a key point was that two new combat systems were deployed for the first time, namely Wedgetail and the KC-30A.
As the newly appointed head of the RAAF, Air Marshal Leo Davies, put it in the interview:
“We have deployed fighters far forward for many years.
But this is the first time that we brought an integrated tanker and battle management package along with the fighters.”
In the forthcoming interview, Air Marshal Davies described how these assets interacted with one another and changed how the RAAF has operated in the operation.
He also discussed the RAAF Super Hornets operating with the USAF F-22s and how that experience – which is the first time they have done this in combat rather than at Red Flag – is a precursor for what the RAAF is planning to do as their F-35s arrive.
The basic package has been six combat aircraft, originally the Super Hornets, along with a KC-30A and a Wedgetail.
In a companion interview, Air Vice-Marshal Warren McDonald focused on the operation in terms of what the KC-30A brought to the effort and how the process of introducing the KC-30A prepared the RAAF for the Plan Jericho transformation effort.
The photos in the slide show highlight the task group as of the Fall of 2014
Credit Photos: Australian Ministry of Defence
The first photo shows the leadership of the air task group.
(L-R) Commander Task Unit 630, Group Captain Rob Chipman; Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General Craig Orme; Chief Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston and Commander Air Task Group 630, Air Commodore Steve Roberton, gather for a photo during VADM Johnston’s visit to Air Task Group 630 in the Middle East.
Group Captain Rob Chipman is now one of the co-leaders along with Group Captain Jake Campbell of the Plan Jericho effort.
The next four photos show the KC-30A.
The next few show the Wedgetail.
And the final seven photos show the Super Hornets, including being tanked by the KC-30a.
As the then Chief of the RAAF Air Marshal Geoff Brown put it with regard to the operation and its role as a harbinger for the future in a RAAF-wide conference to launch Plan Jericho in February 2015:
In the past year, Air Force has constituted the long arm of Australian policy….
In so doing, we exemplified all of the distinctive attributes of Air Power: speed, reach, agility, lethality, precision and discrimination, as well as allowing the government to calibrate our involvement in distant conflicts to a degree that is commensurate with our interests.
Over the past year, we have conducted strike operations and air battle management in Iraq, having already delivered humanitarian aid to internally displaced Yazidi civilians.
We delivered humanitarian aid to the Philippines after a natural disaster.
We led a multi-national coalition search and recovery operation after Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared over the Great Southern Ocean.
And when another Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down over the Ukraine, our Air Force provided the most visible, timely and decisive element of Australia’s response to that crisis.
In every case, Air Power exhibited those characteristics that have made it a unique and indispensable element of military power.
Our response was rapid.
It was calibrated.
It was relevant.
And it represented extraordinary global reach for a regional middle power.
Air Power provided the Australian Government with its most agile, flexible, potent, and visible strategic response to a diverse range of security challenges.