New Zealand has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft to assist evacuation efforts from Afghanistan.
The move comes days after the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, resulting in several foreign countries scrambling to evacuate their citizens from the country.
The C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft was deployed to support safe departure of New Zealanders and other foreign nationals from Afghanistan.
Additionally, New Zealand will send around 80 personnel, including aircrew and maintenance staff, a medical team, operational support staff, logistics personnel and force protection personnel to support the mission.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand rear admiral Jim Gilmour said: “It will be a challenging mission given the changing circumstances on the ground in Afghanistan. The NZDF personnel deploying on this mission, and those involved in the planning in New Zealand, are making every effort to help get New Zealanders and other eligible evacuees out of Afghanistan safely.
“We have included a medical team who will not only look after our deployed personnel but also those we help evacuate, as we have a duty of care for them while they are on our aircraft and in our care.”
The C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft has already departed from RNZAF Base Auckland with a portion of deploying personnel.
The remaining personnel will be deployed over the coming days to a base in the Middle East region to provide planning, logistical and other support to the evacuation.
Air Component Commander air commodore Shaun Sexton said: “To meet the government’s objectives of assisting with the evacuation of New Zealanders and other eligible nationals, we expect to be flying into Afghanistan to facilitate the repatriations from next week.”
The deployment is expected to last for a month, but it may change based on requirements.
Separately, given the evolving situation in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden said that the final pull-out may be extended to ensure the safe evacuation of all Americans.
The US was previously scheduled to complete the withdrawal of its forces from the country by 31 August.