Record Precision Bombing Effort in Iraq


F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft with Australia’s Air Task Group deployed to the Middle East have employed more weapons on targets in one calendar month than ever before, hitting what is believed to be the first non-militant infrastructure targets since World War II.

The Hornet fighter-attack aircraft released 73 precision guided weapons during November 2015 in support of the US-led international coalition, with the clear objective of disrupting and degrading Daesh forces. Then, in early December 2015, Hornet pilots successfully targeted and destroyed an oil facility.

The Coalition strike rate is denying Daesh freedom of movement and consequently their ability to mass forces and to conduct resupply of their fighters in the field.

The Coalition continues to target Daesh’s means of transportation, heavy equipment, command and control nodes and logistic supply centres, ensuring a continued degradation and disruption of their operations.

Flight Lieutenant Nathan, Armament Officer for the Air Task Group’s strike operations said the ground team had worked hard in support to the Coalition campaign. His job is to ensure that supply, storage and subsequent configuration of ordnance meets the high operational demand.

“The Air Task Group strike element runs two types of missions: Close Air Support and Deliberate Strikes,” he said.

“Close Air Support involves supporting friendly ground forces, while Deliberate Strikes focus on pre-planned strikes on Daesh strategic targets.

“To achieve these operational objectives, munitions including Laser Guided Bombs and GPS Guided Bombs need to be transported from Australia to the Air Task Group’s Main Air Operating Base in the Middle East.

“They are then assembled according to mission requirements by Armament Technicians prior to use by F/A-18A Hornet aircraft.”

The payload carried by the F/A-18A Hornet on each mission is carefully planned using sophisticated damage assessment modelling to achieve the desired effect on the target whilst ensuring minimal risk to the local population. Armament Technicians configure these munitions by assembling bomb bodies with guidance tail kits, nose cones, fuses and various other weapon components.

Flight Lieutenant Nathan said the weapons employed on a mission can vary greatly in both explosive payload and method of precision guidance.

“We need to ensure we have a constant resupply of weapons in the correct quantity and type so we can continue effective air operations against Daesh,” he said.

A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft enables Air Force to conduct air-to-air refuelling of Australian F/A-18A Hornets and other coalition aircraft over Iraq. Air-to-air refuelling is essential for ensuring Coalition aircraft can remain on-station for as long as possible to conduct or support close air support and precision strike operations in support of Iraqi Security Forces.