11 Dec 2013

Afghan mission extended for Australian drones

1:57 pm on 11 December 2013

Australia is extending the deployment of two Heron unmanned surveillance aircraft in Afghanistan to assist with security for national elections there in April next year.

Defence Minister David Johnston said the Heron team of 40, based at Kandahar airport, would now stay until next July.

The decision followed a request from the International Security Assistance Force.

AAP reports Australia has operated the two Heron aircraft in Afghanistan since 2010.

With the end of Australia's presence in Oruzgan Province approaching, the Heron detachment would now shift focus to supporting coalition and Afghan operations in the lead-up to the national elections scheduled for April 5.

The decision to extend the Heron mission reflected Australia's ongoing commitment to Afghanistan and ISAF through 2014, Senator Johnston said in an update to parliament.