Home' Air Force News : July 21st 2011 Contents 3
July 21, 2011
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so that you can do yours.
Proud to be a proven supplier to Defence.
AUSTRALIAN service personnel on
operations in Afghanistan can look for-
ward to continued aerial surveillance
support from the Heron Remotely Pi-
loted Aircraft until the end of 2012.
Minister for Defence Materiel
Jason Clare has announced the exten-
sion of the Heron contract, which was
signed with MacDonald Dettwiler and
Associates in 2009.
The aircraft is flown by the Air
Force Heron detachment, supported by
Army personnel, from Kandahar air-
Mr Clare said the Heron provided
real-time, high-resolution surveillance,
which gave commanders on the ground
much better awareness of what was
happening on the ground .
"The Heron has been in operation
since 2009," Mr Clare said.
"It's an important capability as it
gives our commanders eyes in the sky."
WHEN a 10SQN AP-3C started a search
in the Solomon Islands for a small boat
that had not been seen for three days,
aircraft captain FLTLT Tom Blackburn
feared for the safety of the 10 missing
"I thought that after three days, the
chances of finding the missing boat
were minimal," he said.
Imagine how happy they were then
to locate the 10-metre fibreglass boat,
with its passengers safe.
The boat went missing on July 5 en
route from Ullawa Island to Alite Island
in the Guadalcanal region.
The Orion joined the search
on July 8 after the Australian
Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue
Coordination Centre requested Air
Force's assistance with the task.
After leaving RAAF Base
Edinburgh early that morning, the crew
had to fly for five hours and 1800 nau-
tical miles before reaching the area
where they could begin their visual and
Despite the odds being against them,
FLTLT Blackburn said the crew's spir-
its were high.
"We were going to give it our best
shot and see what we could find."
Co-pilot FLGOFF Russell Adams
said that the weather for the search area
was less than satisfactory with cloud
cover at times requiring the aircraft to
descend to as low as 500 feet to stay
beneath its base.
"This low altitude restricted the
radar's detection horizon; however
several radar contacts were found and
investigated -- frustratingly to no avail,"
FLGOFF Adams said.
AFTER more than 10 hours in the air,
the AP-3C crew headed to Honiara
airfield where they were thanked by
Australian High Commissioner to
Solomon Islands Matthew Anderson.
"What you have achieved today
has done so much good, and
strengthened bilateral relations," Mr
"All too often when a boat like this
goes missing, nothing is ever found."
Chief of Joint Operations LTGEN
Ash Power also congratulated the
crew. "They deployed at extremely
short notice on this vital task and
within an hour-and-a-half of arriv-
ing in the search area, were able to
locate the missing vessel and its 10
passengers, who, thankfully, were
all in good health," LTGEN Power
"This task highlights the capac-
ity of the ADF to react quickly to
requests for assistance and to work
in cooperation with, and in support
of, other agencies on life-saving mis-
' I thought
-- FLTLT Tom
Heron contract extended
Heron RPA at
Photo: AC David
Rescue joy for crew
When radar operator SGT Peter
Hedger detected a small vessel outside
the designated search area, the aircraft
descended to 300 feet to visually iden-
tify it. The crew saw a small boat that
did not appear to be moving.
Images taken by hand-held and
Electro Optic cameras counted 10 peo-
ple on board, who were waving franti-
cally at the aircraft.
The crew dropped three heliboxes
containing emergency water and radios,
and these were recovered by the people
on the boat.
Radio contact was then made with
a man who requested "transport ... and
water", and said they had been drifting
for three days.
PLTOFF Johnathan Logan contacted
a civilian Bell 412 rescue helicopter,
which was sent to the scene.
The Orion then climbed and the
crew watched as all 10 survivors were
winched from the boat on to the heli-
LONG-RANGE MISSION: The AP-3C flew for five hours and 1800 nautical
miles to reach the search site.
Photo: LACW Shannon McCarthy WE'RE SAVED: The 10 people aboard the small boat had been missing for three days and waved
frantically when they saw the aircraft.
Photo courtesy 10SQN
Thanks for coming, 10SQN
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