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18 WORLD NEWS
Army June 23, 2011
By Maj Lachlan Simond
THE ScanEagle remotely piloted air-
craft (RPA) has achieved an operation-
al milestone of 25,000 hours in support
of combat operations in Afghanistan.
The figure is equivalent to more than
1000 days or almost three years of con-
Detachment commander Maj Rob
Tierney said the operational milestone
was achieved through the persistent and
dedicated effort of the 200 personnel of
20 STA Regt and 35 staff from the main-
tenance contractor, Insitu Pacific.
"The milestone has been accrued after
almost four years of continuous effort by
the people of eight successive RPA group
rotations," Maj Tierney said.
The RPA operators work 12 hours on,
12 hours off unless bad weather hampers
"Organisationally, the milestone
achieved in Afghanistan has taught the
Army and specifically 20 STA Regt, how
to integrate RPA support into combat
operations," Maj Tierney said.
"This education has set 20 STA Regt
a platform for further success when the
rapid acquisition ScanEagle RPA is
replaced by the very capable Shadow 200
RPA, which will be introduced into opera-
tional service later this year.
"We have already started to take the
lessons learnt operating the ScanEagle
here and in Iraq and are applying them to
deployment preparations for the Shadow.
"The transition should be procedur-
ally seamless." Maj Tierney said one sig-
nificant change would be the improved
picture quality and interoperability with
systems such as the Advanced Field
Artillery Tactical Data System.
RPA group 9 is scheduled to deploy
mid-year and is likely to be the last
ScanEagle RPA deployment. With the
current demand for aerial ISR support, it
is highly likely they will celebrate more
than 30,000 RPA support hours during
Eagles hit 25k hours
A COMBINED Australian Special Operations Task
Group (SOTG) and Afghan National Security Force
(ANSF) operation on June 1 eliminated the com-
mander of a district-level insurgent group in central
The Taliban's shadow governor for the Chora district,
Mullah Gul Akhund, was meeting with other insurgents
in the Karmisan Valley to the north-east of Chora when
they were confronted by the joint force.
The insurgent group engaged the force and Mullah
Gul Akhund was killed in the ensuing firefight.
While securing the area, the partnered force found
and identified the body of prominent insurgent bomb
maker and tactical commander Shah Mamood.
SOTG CO Lt-Col G said the deaths of the two
insurgent commanders would have an immediate and
profound effect on the cohesiveness and control of the
central Uruzgan insurgent network during the traditional
summer fighting season.
"Mullah Gul Akhund was a district-level insurgent
commander responsible for the coordination of several
cells dispersed across central Uruzgan," he said.
"Importantly, he was a man who was wanted by
Afghan authorities for ordering the assassination of gov-
ernment officials and tribal elders, and ordering multiple
attacks on coalition and Afghan forces."
Mullah Gul Akhund is known to have played a key
role in the manufacture and facilitation of IEDs.
He is also known to have only recently returned to
Uruzgan in an effort to coordinate the 2011 insurgent
"Both Mullah Gul Akhund and Shah Mamood had
direct links to the senior insurgent leadership and repre-
sented a clear threat to coalition and Afghan forces, as
well as Afghan locals in the area," Lt-Col G said.
"Their deaths will significantly disrupt the command
and control network in Uruzgan and inhibit IED distri-
bution in the area. It comes at a crucial time, as the coa-
lition braces itself for the commencement of the summer
Several other insurgent fighters were also detained,
and a significant quantity of weapons, including assault
rifles and grenades was recovered during the mission.
No Afghan or Australian personnel were killed or
wounded during the operation.
leaders killed in
Teamwork: Members of the Afghan National
Security Force and SOTG members work together
Photo by Cpl Chris Moore
Ready for take off: An Australian ScanEagle remotely piloted aircraft is ready to be launched by 20 STA Regt operators in Uruzgan
Photos by AB Jo Dilorenzo
Cruising speed: Gnr John Di Mauro operates the
ScanEagle remotely piloted aircraft.
Standing by: Gnr Sean Hovenden prepares to launch a remotely piloted aircraft mission
over Uruzgan province.
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