AUSTRALIAN AIRCRAFT TO TAKE PART IN BOUGAINVILLE PEACEKEEPING

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CANBERRA, Australia (March 30, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Australian aircraft soon will be involved in Bougainville peacekeeping duties for the first time since a truce was signed there last year.

An Iroquois helicopter squadron from the First Aviation Regiment based at Oakey, in Queensland, will leave for the formerly secessionist Papua New Guinea island on the navy ship, Tobruk, during April.

Major Nick Sanders says three helicopters with 10 officers and 20 enlisted troops will provide support to the Truce Monitoring Group.

The order to deploy, he says, hasn't left the squadron much time to train. "They've got a lot of flying training to do. In fact, the aircraft up there are being painted orange, so they've got to do that.

"There's search and rescue training to be done," Sanders added, "and they need to get all their stores together to deploy, basically to be on deck by the 30th of April, which is not a large time frame given the equipment involved."

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