Australia Expands Expeditionary Ops in OIR

The Royal Australian Air Force’s recent deployment to support Operation Inherent Resolve operations in the Middle East represents a major leap forward in Australia’s ability to contribute to coalition airpower operations abroad, said Air Commodore Gary Martin, the RAAF’s air attaché at its embassy in Washington D.C., during AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., last week. This past September, the RAAF dispatched a self-contained expeditionary force to support OIR, which was the result of the RAAF reforming how it deploys airpower abroad, Martin said. “In two weeks, we had an entire package move out,” which included E-7 AWACS, six F/A-18 Super Hornets, two C-130s, and a KC-30 tanker, he said. The aircraft have since operated both as a package, and in support of coalition operations. Martin said the RAAF KC-30 has flown extensive aerial refueling operations for US and allied aircraft since deploying. Thanks to lessons learned from the last 13 years of combat, as well as working with USAF’s international affairs shop to build key capabilities, the RAAF has gone from fielding “niche capabilities” to deploying force packages “all on its own steam,” Martin said. “This enables us to assist those far and near us,” he said.