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Hill in mission over Southern Afghanistan

Hill in mission over Southern Afghanistan

Defence Minister Robert Hill has participated in a mission over Southern Afghanistan in which a Royal Australian Air Force B707 tanker aircraft was refuelling French Mirage fighters.

Senator Hill, who is on a trip to Krygyzstan and the United Kingdom for talks on Australia’s commitment to the war on terrorism, said the fighters offer air support for troops on the ground, including Australian Special Forces.

Senator Hill said the RAAF is operating two tanker aircraft supported by about 70 personnel out of Manas in Krygyzstan.

The Air Force primarily refuels United States FA18 Hornet fighters and the French Mirages. Senator Hill said the RAAF had successfully achieved 105 missions out of a planned 106 missions.

"The extraordinary rate of reliability is greatly appreciated by our Coalition colleagues in the war against terrorism," Senator Hill said.

"It is also a great credit to the RAAF maintenance personnel operating at Richmond in Australia as well as those operating in theatre overseas.

"The Australian Air Force is making a fantastic contribution to the effectiveness of Coalition forces. At Manas I took the opportunity to thank our service men and women on behalf of the Government and all Australians for the incredible work they are doing."

Senator Hill said the Government had made a substantial naval, land and air commitment to the fight against terror with around 850 to 1300 Australian Defence Force personnel serving in operational areas in Afghanistan, Krygyzstan and the Persian Gulf at any one time.

During his visit Senator Hill toured the Ganci Air Base to speak first hand with Australian troops and the commanding officers about the role of Australia’s Air Force in Krygyzstan.

He will now visit the United Kingdom where he will meet United Kingdom Secretary for Defence Geoffrey Hoon.


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