The final AP-3C Orion aircraft to have served in the Middle
East Area of Operations has been welcomed home.
AP-3C Orion aircraft from Number 92 Wing, Royal Australian
Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh, South Australia, have provided nearly ten
years of operational service in the Middle East.
AP-3C Orions first deployed to the Middle East in 2003 to
provide an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to forces
in the Middle East and proved themselves to be extremely versatile.
The Middle East deployment witnessed the aircraft’s purpose
expand from being almost exclusively maritime-focused to becoming an invaluable
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset in the land environment,
providing ground force commanders with essential situational awareness.
The AP-3C Orions conducted overland intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance tasks in Afghanistan and Iraq and maritime
patrols of the Arabian Gulf and North Arabian Sea.
More recently, Orions also conducted counter-piracy missions
in the vicinity of Somalia, working closely with the US-led Combined Maritime
Force and other International maritime anti-piracy task forces.
Throughout the almost decade-long deployment, approximately
3500 personnel deployed with AP-3C Orions on three to six month tours of duty.