Chapter Four - Outcome Performance > Outcome One: Command of Operations > Special Feature: Air Force contribution to Operations Catalyst
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Operation Catalyst - Air Force Capabilities | Special Feature

Air Force contribution to
Operations Catalyst

Air Force contribution to Operation Catalyst is based on C-130 and P-3 Orion aircraft, an Air Traffic Control element, the combat support elements enabling these capabilities; key members of Coalition operational planning staff and liaison officers in various Coalition headquarters throughout the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO); and staff within the ADF's Joint Task Force 633 (JTF 633) headquarters in Baghdad. Significant senior appointments included Air Commodore Greg Evans who commanded JTF 633, and Air Commodore John Quaife who was Director of the Combined Air Operations Centre and responsible for coordinating all Coalition air operations in the theatre.

Air Traffic Control operations in Iraq.
Air Traffic Control operations in Iraq.

C-130H Hercules aircraft have been operating in the MEAO since before combat operations commenced in Iraq in 2003. These aircraft provide vital intra-theatre airlift between logistics hubs throughout the theatre, including into Iraq. They were replaced, as a key milestone of their introduction into service, by the new C-130J aircraft. Prior to deployment of the C-130J, a rapid acquisition program was initiated to provide these aircraft with electronic warfare self protection and fuel tank explosion suppressant foam. The C-130 force have carried over 2,500 tonnes of supplies, conducted 466 aero-medical evacuations, and carried 11,252 passengers supporting Operation Catalyst.

C130 aircraft departs on a mission in the Middle East.
C130 aircraft departs on a mission in the Middle East.

Two Air Force P-3 Orion long-range maritime patrol aircraft have also been operating in the MEAO since early 2003. They have been providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to Coalition naval forces protecting the oil infrastructure of Iraq and her neighbours, and to Coalition ground forces in Iraq. The P-3 crews flew over 350 sorties during the year in support of the war on terror and the rehabilitation of Iraq.

Air Force Air Traffic Controllers have maintained operations at Balad, in central Iraq, to ensure the flow of air transport into and out of this vital Coalition air base. They operated the control tower at Balad and trained Iraqi air traffic controllers. Over the year, there were 580 - 650 movements per day making Balad Air Base busier than Melbourne Airport.

Enabling these activities were the combat support squadrons providing air base services such as medical, security, chaplaincy, communications, transport, engineering and air movements support.

AP-3C Orion over Persian Gulf.
AP-3C Orion over Persian Gulf.

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