The Australian Army’s two CH-47 Chinook helicopters have successfully completed an eight-month operational tour in Afghanistan and are ready to fly home.

During the army’s fourth Rotary Wing Group (RWG – 4) deployment, the two helicopters and crew completed more than 780 flying hours, and transported over seven thousand passengers and a million pounds of cargo.

One of the Chinooks was hit by small arms fire on 3 August 2009 but the aircraft and crew were able to remain serviceable and operate at peak performance.

Lieutenant Colonel Hamlyn said a million pounds of cargo was transported in the helicopters and many of the coalition forces across Afghanistan were not exposed to road travel and the associated dangers of improvised explosive devices.

The two medium-lift helicopters will resume their operations in Afghanistan in March 2010.