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Australian Heron deployment extended

30th December 2013 - 09:12 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The Australian government is to extend its Heron-1 UAV deployment in Afghanistan to July 2014 in support of the transition of responsibility in the region to the Afghan National Security Forces.

The MALE Heron, developed by IAI, has been operating in theatre with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) since January 2010, providing ISR support to missions in the Uruzgan province and southern Afghanistan.

Australia is preparing to withdraw from operations in the area, so the Heron detachment will shift its focus to support operations in Regional Command South during the final period of transition of security responsibility to Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan elections scheduled for 5 April next year.

‘The air force has gained immense experience in the use of unmanned aerial systems during the campaign in Afghanistan,’ Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, said in an air force statement. ‘The extension of the Heron deployment until July 2014 will continue this important capability.’

‘The decision to extend the Heron RPA and its associated systems reflects Australia’s ongoing commitment to Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) through 2014,’ Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston, added.

‘It is in line with the previously announced training and specialist contributions the ADF and the Australian Government will make in Afghanistan as our mission moves from Uruzgan to the wider Afghan nation.’

Based at Kandahar Air Field, the Heron will provide ISAF’s Regional Command South with an ISR capability over the coming months and continue to enhance the ADF’s unmanned aerial system capability, which has grown significantly during the deployment to Afghanistan of ScanEagle, Shadow 200 and the Heron platforms, Johnston continued.

Meanwhile on 11 December, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) announced that it has been contracted by the Australian government to continue providing the Heron service for the ADF until the middle of 2014.

MDA has been supporting the ADF by providing ‘critically important real-time’ ISR information directly to ground commanders since the Heron was first deployed by Australia in January 2010, the company said in a statement.

The Shephard News Team


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