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Army Chinooks return to Australia.



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THE HON JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Sunday, 2 November 2008 155/2008

ARMY CHINOOKS RETURN TO AUSTRALIA

After eight months of high intensity operations in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the two Australian CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 65 personnel that form the Rotary Wing Group (RWG) are

returning to home to Townsville to reconstitute and rest.

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, said the men and women, along with their helicopters, continued to make a significant contribution to the coalition effort in Afghanistan.

“Chinooks are among our most capable aircraft and combined with the skill of the flight crew and technicians, the Task Group provides logistics support under extreme conditions in Afghanistan,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“I congratulate our serving men and women on a very successful and highly professional deployment. The support you have provided since March has been commendable.”

The RWG conducted 240 missions and transported about 7900 passengers and more than 2,000,000 lbs of cargo. The RWG was tasked to support ISAF troops in the Regional Command - South (RC-S) sector into Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan provinces.

The Officer Commanding RWG, Major Susana Fernandez said aviation support was provided to Canadian, British, United States of America, Afghan National Army, Romanian, Jordanian, UAE and Australian troops.

“All of the soldiers worked very hard and maintained the focus of ensuring we always had aircraft ready to go, to do the job and ultimately provide support to the soldiers on the ground that rely on us,” Major Fernandez said.

This is the second time the CH-47s have been used by Australian forces during Operation SLIPPER, with the aircraft undergoing upgrades and deep maintenance when the last rotation ended in April 2007. The aircraft have received engine upgrades and are equipped with an enhanced level of ballistic protection and advanced communications equipment.

A third rotation of CH-47 helicopters is due to redeploy into Afghanistan in February 2009 to commence operations in March.

Media contacts: Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664