Heron sings its swan song
The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) Heron has flown its last mission ahead of its withdrawal from service, the RAAF announced on 8 August.
Heron's final mission was conducted from RAAF Base Tindal during Exercise Diamond Storm on 23 June. During the exercise, Heron completed 17 sorties in support of the Air Warfare Instructor Course in an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and electronic warfare role.
The RAAF's No. 5 Flight, which was responsible for the Heron mission in Afghanistan and training missions in Australia, will be disbanded at the end of the year.
The Heron aircraft has played a significant role in the RAAF’s ability to deliver air-land integration effects in support of national security interests, including in Afghanistan where it completed over 27,000 mission hours during Operation Slipper.
Following its draw-down from Afghanistan, the Heron's role switched to in-country training operations in Australia as the air force prepared to procure and operate more advanced UAS systems.
The RAAF is acquiring a replacement capability through Project AIR 7003 which is scheduled to be delivered after 2020. The project will deliver an armed medium altitude long endurance unmanned aircraft system.
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