In Photos—Australia’s Beautiful, and Uneventful, First Combat Mission in Iraq

Super Hornets, tankers and radar planes hunt elusive Islamic State

In Photos—Australia’s Beautiful, and Uneventful, First Combat Mission in Iraq In Photos—Australia’s Beautiful, and Uneventful, First Combat Mission in Iraq

Uncategorized October 6, 2014 0

On Oct. 2, the Royal Australian Air Force deployed 400 people and eight warplanes—six F/A-18F Super Hornets, an E-7 radar plane and a KC-30... In Photos—Australia’s Beautiful, and Uneventful, First Combat Mission in Iraq

On Oct. 2, the Royal Australian Air Force deployed 400 people and eight warplanes—six F/A-18F Super Hornets, an E-7 radar plane and a KC-30 tanker—to the Middle East to join the growing, U.S.-led coalition targeting Islamic State militants.

An F/A-18F and a KC-30 at their forward base in the United Arab Emirates. All photos—Australian Department of Defense

The tanker and radar plane began flying immediately from the United Arab Emirates, supporting coalition jets striking militants in northwest Iraq.

An E-7 at its forward base in the United Arab Emirates

Three days later, with the Australian government’s belated approval, the Super Hornets flew their first combat mission, hauling precision-guided bombs on a fruitless, six-hour hunt for Islamist forces somewhere in the Iraqi desert.

Cpl. David Van Hoos inspects one of the KC-30’s engines

Military photographers documented the uneventful sorties.

A boom operator on the KC-30 refuels F/A-18Fs over Iraq

“What we have seen from ISIS over the last week or so is that they’ve made themselves a much harder target,” former Australian army chief Peter Leahy told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Flight Lt. Daniel White prepares for a mission on the E-7

“They’ve dispersed,” Leahy continued, “they’re adapting camouflage patterns, they’ve moved back inside the cities and getting close to the forces and holding on.”

An F/A-18F over Iraq

All three Australian warplane types in the Middle East — the F/A-18F, the E-7 and the KC-30 — are brand-new, having joined the RAAF in just the last few years.

F/A-18Fs refuel from the KC-30 over Iraq

Their Oct. 5 combat debut may have been fruitless, but it sure was beautiful.

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