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US, coalition air forces build relationships through munitions

Members of the Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Air Force construct Joint Direct Attack Munitions at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Feb. 9, 2016. The RAAF has employed more than 1,600 munitions against ISIS since 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)

Members of the Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Air Force construct Joint Direct Attack Munitions at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Feb. 9, 2016. The RAAF has employed more than 1,600 munitions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant since 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Members of the Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Air Force constructed 4,000-pounds of Joint Direct Attack Munitions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Okra at an undisclosed location Feb. 9.

Partnering nations contribute in the dismantling of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in nearly every aspect of OIR. From aerial refueling to armament building to conducting strikes, the coalition provides commanders with decisional advantage daily.

“We are fighting the same war,” said Stefan, a RAAF leading aircraftman. “Communicating with the Americans has been so easy. They’ve been able to teach us so much that has helped us with our jobs and vice-versa as well.”

First Lt. Leigh Ann, the munitions flight officer in charge, shared why coalition relationships at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing are so unique.

“Working with coalition partners brings to light the scope of what we are doing out here,” Leigh Ann said. “The mission that we are working has a worldwide effect and it is awesome to see how the small day-to-day interactions result in big, strategic missions and accomplishments. I think that is what makes this environment so special—multiple countries working together for a common goal.”

According to U.S. Air Forces Central Command, nearly 99 percent of all weapons employed have been precision guided—making OIR the most precise air campaign in the history of warfare.

As of 2014, both RAAF F/A-18 Hornets and F/A-18 Super Hornets have flown cumulatively over 2,101 sorties and 16,146 hours and dropped in excess of 1,630 munitions during Operation Okra.

“I think it’s important to develop coalition relationships,” said Andrew, the RAAF's 77th Squadron armament technician leading aircraftman. “It just makes you feel like a part of a bigger team.”

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