> our title:

Last RAAF Heron Detachment Returns Homes

> original title:

Last Air Force Heron Detachment Returns from Afghanistan

(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued Dec 10, 2014)

After a five-year commitment in Afghanistan, the last contingent of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Navy and Army personnel supporting the Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Detachment returned home to Australia this morning.

Heron aircraft have completed more than 27,000 mission hours during Operation SLIPPER at Kandahar Airfield providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to Australian forces and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners in southern Afghanistan since August 2009.

Deputy Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Leo Davies welcomed the personnel in Darwin today before they returned to their home cities.

“The men and women that have deployed with Heron should be very proud of what they have achieved for the ADF mission in Afghanistan,” said AVM Davies.

“These remarkable men and women have represented us very well in difficult and dangerous circumstances in Afghanistan. That service would not be possible without the support and dedication of their families who they return to today.”

Following the conclusion of Australia’s mission in Uruzgan in December 2013, the Heron mission was extended to support ISAF members in Regional Command – South, including support to the 2014 Afghan presidential election.

Heron is Air Force’s first Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) entering service directly into Afghanistan in July 2009 and flying its final mission there from Kandahar Airfield on 30 November 2014.

One Heron RPA will return to RAAF Base Woomera in South Australia in 2015, where another Heron is already based, and these aircraft will form the basis of Air Force’s continued development of UAS operations in support of the Australian Defence Force.