Thirty New Zealand Defence Force personnel and a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules strategic airlift aircraft are supporting New Zealand, Australian and coalition operations in the Middle East.
Leading the air transport mission is Squadron Leader Brad Scott, from the northern Waikato town of Taupiri, who was encouraged by his parents to sign up for the Air Force and train as a pilot 11 years ago.
“I look forward to the opportunity and the challenges of commanding the mission. This is the first time I will be leading a deployment and the positive reaction from my peers has been encouraging,” says Squadron Leader Scott.
The aircraft and the supporting detachment are being deployed until mid-June at the request of the Australian Defence Force and will operate as part of their Air Mobility Task Group.
“The Hercules' primary task is to transport people, equipment and supplies in support of New Zealand and Australian operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan and the Sinai Peninsula. It may also support coalition operations in these countries,” says General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.
Thirty New Zealand Defence Force personnel and one of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's C-130 Hercules strategic airlift aircraft left this morning to support New Zealand, Australian and coalition operations in the Middle East.
He says the short-term deployment aimed to provide additional capacity during a period of high operational tempo.
“The upcoming mission also marks our latest contribution to security and stability in the Middle East and affirms our longstanding commitment in the region,” says Major General Gall.
This is the second time an RNZAF air transport team has been deployed to the Middle East in the past 12 months. A Hercules aircraft and a 32-member detachment were sent to the Middle East in May 2016 to provide logistics support to coalition operations for six months.
The detachment includes aircraft technicians, logistics specialists, maintenance personnel, and an Air Movements Load Team to support coalition aircraft in the region.
A pilot and flying instructor for the C-130 aircraft, Squadron Leader Scott joined the Air Force in January 2006. During his last year at Hamilton Boys High School, he thought about becoming a field engineer in the New Zealand Army after attending a leadership programme at Waiouru camp.
Before handing in his application to for the Army's Officer Cadet School, he sought advice from his parents, who suggested that he consider the other Services.
“My recruiter, who was an Air Force C-130 pilot, came to my parents' farm and over coffee, convinced us that joining the Air Force was a pretty good career choice,” he recalls.
Squadron Leader Scott has previously been deployed to the Middle East, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines and Timor-Leste.