07 Mei 2013

A New Home for the Heron

07 Mei 2013

RAAF Heron UAV (photo : RAAF)

The Air Force's Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft capability recently moved to a new home from Air Combat Group (ACG) to Surveillance and Response Group (SRG).

A handover/ takeover ceremony took place at the Heron No 5 Flight (5FLT) headquarters at RAAF Base Amberley, attended by the Officer Commanding No 82 Wing Group Captain (GPCAPT) Geoff Harland, Officer Commanding No 92 Wing GPCAPT Craig Heap and Commanding Officer of 5FLT Wing Commander (WGCDR) Jonathan McMullan, along with the 5FLT team.

WGCDR McMullan, who has completed two rotations with the Heron Detachment in Afghanistan as Detachment Commander, welcomed the change and said it was an historic milestone with the changing from one Force Element Group to another. “The Heron has done more than 16,000 flying hours in Afghanistan and Woomera in South Australia since 2010,” he said. “We have three Remotely Piloted Aircraft at Kandahar Airfield flying dual operations and one in Woomera for all our ab initio flying training. We view Heron as a mature capability that is operating as safely as possible in its current tasking and configuration. “The Heron is providing a superior intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) product to Australian troops and coalition forces on a daily basis, routinely flying 20-plus-hour missions.”

WGCDR McMullan said the change from ACG to SRG was largely due to the Growler project standing up in ACG requiring some restructure within the Force Element Group. “There are some great synergies between Heron’s current ISR capability in Afghanistan and SRG, largely due to the AP-3Cs significant and stellar record conducting ISR in the MEAO since 2003,” he said.

5FLT’s capability was stood up under ACG back in January 2010 due to SRG and Air Lift Group’s already high operational tempo at the time. ACG was deemed to be the most suitable Force Element Group to deploy Heron into theatre rapidly. “Through the resourcing of high quality aviators, 5FLT was able to get initial crews trained and into Afghanistan in a very short time, resolving certain operational airworthiness concerns,” WGCDR McMullan said. “Now that 5FLT is at that mature stage and training has been significantly improved, we are looking forward to our future in SRG and helping develop plans for Air Force’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft ISR capability beyond Afghanistan.”


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