Australia’s defense ministry to pull back its six F/A-18F Super Hornets in January marking the end of its successful air strike operations against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.
Defense Minister, Marise Payne, said Australia had reviewed its contribution to the anti-IS efforts with Iraqi and Coalition partners after the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared final victory over IS earlier this month.
“The battlefield success against Daesh means our own Operation OKRA has now reached a natural transition point and our strike aircraft will begin returning home early in the New Year,” Minister Payne said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
“Since October 2014, our Hornet pilots and support personnel have made a significant contribution in support of the Iraqi Security Forces and I commend all the ADF personnel who have contributed over this period for their dedication, skill and professionalism,” she said.
Payne further noted that “Australia’s Air Task Group has made a valued contribution to coalition operations against Daesh that is highly regarded by the US, Iraq and coalition partners.”
The Australian strike aircraft conducted over 2,700 sorties against IS targets in Iraq and eastern Syria.
However, Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail and KC-30A refueling aircraft will continue to support the anti-IS Global Coalition operations. Australia will also continue its training mission.
“Australia is committed to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces as it clears the remaining pockets of Daesh fighters in rural areas and ensuring the long-term stability of Iraq,” Minister Payne said.