The Australian Air Task Group E-7A Wedgetail command and control aircraft has achieved a record 100% mission success rate in Coalition operations against Daesh in the Middle East. The record is attributed to the current rotation, Rotation 5, of aircrew and maintenance personnel that operated the aircraft over the last four months.
Commander of the Air Task Group, Air Commodore Antony Martin, said that the men and women of the E-7A detachment should all be immensely proud of their efforts.
“They’ve all set the bar exceptionally high, especially achieving 100% mission completion – a fantastic effort,” said Air Commodore Martin.
“Such success speaks volumes about what the whole team has achieved in the past few months.
“The take-away for Rotation 5 is that their role and that of the E-7A Wedgetail in facilitating combat airpower capability in the Middle East is first class.”
Rotation 5 Detachment Commander, Squadron Leader David, explained that the record was the first time that an E-7A Rotation in the Middle East had successfully conducted every single mission they were assigned over the period of their deployment - in this case all 36 missions.
“I’m very proud of what our rotation has achieved over the four months that we’ve been deployed to the Middle East,” said Squadron Leader David.
“While 36 missions may not sound like a lot, when you consider that each mission lasts upwards of 12 hours, and we only have one aircraft, that’s nearly 500 hours of flying and a lot of maintenance.
“The Wedgetail is a very technically advanced and complicated aircraft, so under normal circumstances we expect to have to cancel the occasional mission due to a maintenance requirement or perhaps crewing issue.
“While luck might play a small role, it’s above all a credit to the Rotation 5 maintenance team that has dedicated themselves to making sure the aircraft is always ready, and that they are prepared for all practical contingencies.”
Senior Engineering Officer and head of Rotation 5 maintenance, Flight Sergeant Barry Damsma, said that he was really proud of his workforce for achieving the record.
“It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s really hard to get a 100% mission success rate,” said Flight Sergeant Damsma.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen it achieved in 23 years and I’ve worked on a number of different aircraft.”
Flight Sergeant Damsma attributed the team’s success to three key factors: logistics arrangements, maintenance practices, and personnel management.
“We’ve been pro-active, rather than re-active; looking forward into the future,” said Flight Sergeant Damsma.
“From a logistics point of view, we’ve focused on establishing a more long-term supply of spares and more solid supply chain management.
“While the earlier focus was more on critical items, we’ve looked ahead at what might become critical in the future, and tried to make sure it never reaches that stage.
“As for maintenance practices, we’ve developed policy that is more sustainable and we’ve tried to mirror the practices we do back home.
“That means for example moving from working with toolboxes, to putting everything on tool-boards.
“When it comes to people, it’s important that they are happy, motivated and have the resources to achieve what they want.
“If people are motivated they will come into the workshop during their spare time and try to fix problems that they’ve been working on.”
Aviation Technician, Sergeant Andrew Green, acknowledges that luck played a bit of a role, but he notes that luck and hard work seem to often go hand-in-hand.
“It may be a bit of a cliché, but you really make your own luck,” said Sergeant Green.
“It all boils down to attitude, and we’ve had the right attitude – the right attitude can overcome just about anything.
“If the next rotation wants it enough, they’ll likely achieve it again, and we’ve done the best we can to set them up for success.
“It’s a very modest team, and I don’t think we’ll be celebrating our record.
“We’ll just end the day as normal, and turn up tomorrow and do it all over again.”