A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet makes contact with the fuel hose of a RAAF KC-30A above a city in Iraq, during the first combat mission of the F/A-18F. During its mission the tanker (an Airbus A330 MRTT) distributed thousands of litres of fuel to Australian aircraft in order to maintain sustained air operations. (Image © Sergeant Hamish Paterson, / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

Photo Essay: The RAAF wages war against ISIS

On special request by the US and Iraqi governments the Royal Australian Air Force sent a Air Task Group to Southwest Asia. Mission: to fight – and thereby stop and degrade – in Iraq the offensive of the so-called Islamic State forces known in the west by their abbreviations in English: ISIS and ISIL – or Daech in French.

Six (plus 2 in reserve back home) Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, an Airbus KC-30A tanker/airlifter, a Boeing E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C plus 400 RAAF personnel joined a RAAF Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules and Boeing C-17A Globemaster III already deployed for humanitarian aid flights and logistic purposes to Al Minhad Airbase in the United Arab Emirates. The Australians have dubbed their contribution Operation Okra.

The additional combat part of the RAAF Air Task Group (ATG) completed its first operational missions over Iraq on 1 October 2014. The first four Super Hornets followed on 5 October, flying combat air patrol missions in pairs in Iraqi skies. In the night from 8 to 9 October two F/A-18Fs dropped their first ordnance on a ISIS compound: either a JDAM or a GBU-12.

Although a lot remains unseen, how the Royal Australian Air Force wages war against ISIS comes a bit to light thanks to nice photography by RAAF personnel, both on the ground at Al Minhad as well as in the skies over Iraq. We at Airheadsfly.com couldn’t wait to share their work and say thanks to Corporal Max Bree and the sergeants Hamish Paterson, Andrew Eddie and Mick Davis for capturing the view from their “office”.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

A pair of F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft at Al Minhad in the UAE after completing their first combat mission over Iraq on 5 October 2014. The aircraft were equipped with a 20mm cannon, GPS-guided munitions, laser-guided munitions, sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and radar-guided missiles. (Image © Corporal Max Bree / Defense News / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A pair of F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft at Al Minhad in the UAE after completing their first combat mission over Iraq on 5 October 2014. The aircraft were equipped with a 20mm cannon, GPS-guided munitions, laser-guided munitions, sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and radar-guided missiles. (Image © Corporal Max Bree / Defense News / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft is cleared to go by a member of the ground crew.  (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID - AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft is cleared to go by a member of the ground crew. (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID – AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
The crew of a Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet on the taxiway of Al Minhad prior to their first combat mission in Iraq (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID - AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
The crew of a Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet on the taxiway of Al Minhad prior to their first combat mission in Iraq (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID – AMB /
Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet waits while a RAAF KC-30A taxis past at Al Minhad Airbase, UAE  (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID - AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet waits while a RAAF KC-30A taxis past at Al Minhad Airbase, UAE (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID – AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
RAAF aircrew disembark their F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft at Al Minhad after completing their first combat mission over Iraq (Image © Corporal Max Bree / Defense News / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
RAAF aircrew disembark their F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft at Al Minhad after completing their first combat mission over Iraq (Image © Corporal Max Bree / Defense News / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft refuels from a RAAF KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft over Iraq. (Image © Sergeant Hamish Paterson / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft refuels from a RAAF KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft over Iraq. (Image © Sergeant Hamish Paterson / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Two French Air Force Dassault Rafale F1 aircraft in the skies of Iraq after receiving fuel from a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport, 3 October 2014. The French fly from Al Dhafra Airbase in the UAE (Image © SGT Mick Davis / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Two French Air Force Dassault Rafale F1 aircraft in the skies of Iraq after receiving fuel from a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport, 3 October 2014. The French fly from Al Dhafra Airbase in the UAE (Image © SGT Mick Davis / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Connected to “the basket” of the RAAF KC-30A is this Armée de l'Air Dassault Rafale F1, in the skies over Iraq on 3 October 2014 (Image © SGT Mick Davis / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Connected to “the basket” of the RAAF KC-30A is this Armée de l’Air Dassault Rafale F1, in the skies over Iraq on 3 October 2014 (Image © SGT Mick Davis / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
The Air Refueller Operator onboard the RAAF KC-30A provides two RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet with the necessary “gas” (Image © SGT Mick Davis / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
The Air Refueller Operator onboard the RAAF KC-30A provides two RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet with the necessary “gas” (Image © SGT Mick Davis / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF F/A-18F “caught” alongside the RAAF KC-30 (Image © SGT Mick Davis / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF F/A-18F “caught” alongside the RAAF KC-30 (Image © SGT Mick Davis / 1st JPAU / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Mission accomplished. A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A is marshalled into position at Al Manhad after returning from the skies over Iraq (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID - AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
RTB. A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A is marshalled into position at Al Manhad after returning from the skies over Iraq (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID – AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet makes contact with the fuel hose of a RAAF KC-30A above a city in Iraq, during the first combat mission of the F/A-18F. During its mission the tanker (an Airbus A330 MRTT) distributed thousands of litres of fuel to Australian aircraft in order to maintain sustained air operations. (Image © Sergeant Hamish Paterson, / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet makes contact with the fuel hose of a RAAF KC-30A above a city in Iraq, during the first combat mission of the F/A-18F. During its mission the tanker (an Airbus A330 MRTT) distributed thousands of litres of fuel to Australian aircraft in order to maintain sustained air operations. (Image © Sergeant Hamish Paterson, / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)