Australian Defence Force personnel based in the Middle East with a range of Australian aircraft.
Australian Defence Force personnel based in the Middle East with a range of Australian aircraft. CPL Brenton Kwaterski

RAAF fighters mark Middle East milestone

THE Air Task Group fighting Daesh in the Middle East region has marked three years on Operation Okra.

In 2014, the Australian Government announced that it would contribute an ATG for the fight against the terror group in Iraq.

Commander ATG AIRCDRE Terry van Haren said the anniversary marked a significant milestone in the history of the group.

"We look back on three very successful years of achievement in our mission to defeat Daesh," AIRCDRE van Haren said.

"On October 1, 2014, we conducted our first air-to-air refuelling mission and our first airborne air command and control mission with the KC-30 A Multi Role Tanker Transport and E-7A Wedgetail."

Since that time, the group has provided more than 50 million litres of fuel through mid-air refuelling, while E-7A Wedgetail crews have provided more than 4500 hours of airborne command and control over Iraq and Syria.

The strike element, which has deployed both the F/A-18A Hornets and the F/A-18F Super Hornets throughout the three years of operations, has targeted and struck Daesh positions with 2349 precision-guided munitions.

AIRCDRE van Haren said more than 1700 personnel were deployed to the Air Task Group.

"More importantly, behind all these people are all the families. All those people - the mums, dads, partners, children - are dealing with the absence of loved ones. We thank them for their support."

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