October 23, 2009 -- Following an eight month operational tour to Afghanistan, the Australian Army’s fourth Rotary Wing Group (RWG – 4) deployment, consisting of two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, crew and support personnel, has started to head home.
RWG – 4 Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Karl Hamlyn, says the tasks that have confronted the approximately 60 members of the group have been a real test of character and endurance.
During its tour, the aircraft and crew completed more than 780 flying hours, and lifted over seven thousand passengers and more than a million pounds (453592.4 kgs) of cargo.
RWG – 4 has worked for the past eight months in some of the most challenging of conditions. Throughout their deployment they faced the ongoing threat of attack by Taliban insurgents, such as when one of the Chinooks was hit by small arms fire on 3 August 2009.
The personnel of the RWG were also confronted with extreme heat and dust, however the aircraft and crew were able to remain serviceable and operate at peak performance.
“There’s a pretty big effort all round to move a million pounds of cargo around Afghanistan,” Lieutenant Colonel Hamlyn said.
Lieutenant Colonel Hamlyn says the benefit of having a high level of flight readiness can be best seen in the amount of passengers, many of whom are Coalition forces, safely across Afghanistan.
“When put into context, that means more than seven thousand people haven’t been exposed to travelling by road and the associated dangers of Improvised Explosive Devices,” Lieutenant Colonel Hamlyn said.
Both aircraft have been partially dismantled for the journey back to Australia, with the first helicopter already leaving on a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 this week.
The two medium-lift helicopters will return to Afghanistan following the winter break to commence operations in March next year.
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