A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H Hercules aircraft in Afghanistan.
17 October 2016
The New Zealand Defence Force’s air transport team in the Middle East has flown the equivalent of five round-the-world trips since their mission began in June.
The team is delivering supplies and personnel for coalition operations in the region.
Squadron Leader Blair Oldershaw, Commander of the NZDF Task Unit, said a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H Hercules and a 32-strong detachment have flown 45 missions, including night-vision-goggle flights, to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We have so far flown almost 200,000 kilometres in support of New Zealand, Australian and coalition operations in the region, which is equivalent to making five round-the-world trips,” SQNLDR Oldershaw said.
He said the NZDF air transport team has also maintained a near-perfect mission record, having flown all but 2 per cent of the missions assigned by the Australian Defence Force air mobility task group, of which it forms a part.
“The 98 per cent mission success rate is a great achievement and speaks to the capability of the entire team.”
The New Zealand and Australian personnel had integrated particularly well, SQNLDR Oldershaw said.
“The value of camaraderie is clear to see. Both countries have similar values and cultures, and working together closely reminds us why the Anzac spirit remains strong today.”
The NZDF air transport team, which finishes its six-month deployment in December, includes aircraft technicians, logistics specialists, maintenance personnel and an air movements load team that is working as part of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Air Movements Unit.
Squadron Leader Scott Harris, the commander of the RAAF’s C-130J Task Unit, said it had been great working with the Kiwis.
“They maintain very high professional standards, and the integration between our task units and between the squadrons in general has been seamless and continues at a high level,” SQNLDR Harris said.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the NZDF’s strategic air support represented a vital contribution to multinational efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East.
“We have been providing a critical link supporting New Zealand and Australian commitments in the region. Our partners, especially Australia, are very pleased that our team has maintained its outstanding performance despite the demanding conditions it has to operate in,” MAJGEN Gall said.