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Photo Essay: Australia’s air campaign – Operation OKRA

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Operation OKRA is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the international effort to combat the Daesh (also known as ISIL) terrorist threat in Iraq and Syria.

Australia's contribution is being closely co-ordinated with the Iraqi government, Gulf nations and a broad coalition of international partners. About 600 ADF personnel are deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation OKRA. The operation commenced on 31 August 2014 and its initial stated aim was to combat ISIL threats in Iraq.

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The original ATG deployed in September 2014 consisted of up to eight Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, a single Boeing E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft and a single Airbus KC-30 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. 

Designated Air Task Group 630 – Australia's air campaign against Daesh has been commanded by a number of RAAF commanders, including: 

  • Air Commodore Steve Roberton (to 5 January 2015);
  • Air Commodore Glen Braz (from 5 January 2015);
  • Air Commodore Stuart Bellingham;
  • Air Commodore Antony Martin (early 2016); and
  • Air Commodore Mike Kitcher (early 2017).

In late 2015, the US government asked the Australian government, along with other members of the coalition, to expand its military commitment to the war.

The Australian government rejected this request in January 2016, but stated that it would increase the number of Australian personnel attached to the coalition headquarters from 20 to 30 and was considering increasing the amount of humanitarian aid it provides to people affected by the war in Iraq and Syria.

In June 2017, flights in Syria were temporarily halted in response to American forces shooting down a Syrian Air Force jet, before later being resumed.

The Strike Component of the Air Task Group for Operation OKRA concluded its operations in January 2018, with the F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets conducting over 2,700 sorties in their nearly four-year deployment. The decision was made following the recapture of the last remaining ISIL held areas of Iraq. 

Photo Essay: Australia’s air campaign – Operation OKRA
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