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Iraqis Working to Build Capable Air Force
American Forces Press Service ^ | John J. Kruzel

Posted on 03/12/2007 5:03:45 PM PDT by SandRat

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2007 – U.S. and Iraqi officials are working to build an Iraqi air force capable of conducting operations across the entire spectrum of the counterinsurgency fight, a senior U.S. military officer said today.

The ultimate goal is to create an Iraqi air force “that’s sustainable, and with a force structure that (Iraqis) can maintain,” U.S. Air Force Brig Gen. Stephen Hoog, the air component coordination element director for Multinational Force Iraq, told a group of Internet journalists and bloggers during a telephone conference call from Baghdad.

Eighteen years ago, the now-defunct Iraqi air force had 900 modern airplanes, Hoog said. “It’s not that they don’t know how to run an air force; it’s that they don’t know how to do an air force in this environment. And we’re trying to introduce some Western influence,” he said.

Currently, the nascent air force employs 950 Iraqis, including about 83 cadets engaged in English language training, Hoog said.

“Our goal this year is to expand their air force from 950 up to around 1,900 to 2,000,” he said.

Skilled cadets from the former Iraqi air force -- including air traffic controllers, maintenance workers, warrant officers, and helicopter and fixed-wing pilots -- will be recruited and rehired, the general said.

“The Iraqi air force has a significant rehire program ongoing … led by Major General Kamal, chief of their air force,” Hoog said.

Enlisted recruits begin their military careers as “jundis,” Iraqi army soldiers, then gain experience as security force policemen on an air base before becoming cadets, he said.

“We’re not going to recruit a young Iraqi kid off the street to become an Iraqi airman,” Hoog said. “It’s not a separate pipeline; it’s all dovetailed together (with Iraqi army recruit training).”

Officials also are working to set up an initial flight-training program at Kirkuk Air Base, in northern Iraq.

“Sometime late this fall, we’ll start the first in-country training of their rotary and fixed-wing aviators,” Hoog said. Iraqi cadets have sent pilots abroad for training in the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Jordan, Hoog said.

The average age of Iraqi pilots is 45 to 47, Hoog said. He added that new training at Kirkuk “would represent the first time we’re training the next generation of the new Iraqi air force pilots.”

Iraqi airmen will train on one of three helicopters in the rotary-wing fleet, consisting of Bell Ranger 206-B3s, modified UH-1 Hueys and Russian-built MI-17 Hip Helicopters. The Iraqi fixed-wing fleet includes SAMA CH-2000s, Seeker 2000s and C130Es.

“If we can train, over the next three to four years, 200 to 300 new Iraqi aviators and start to inculcate some of the ways we think, this is a wholesale change in the backbone of their Air Force,” he said. “This is a chance to make a significant change to the way we do business here and we’re looking forward to it.”

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: airforce; capable; frwn; iraqis

1 posted on 03/12/2007 5:03:49 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: 91B; HiJinx; Spiff; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; Grampa Dave; ...

WAR News at Home and Abroad You'll Hear Nowhere Else!

All the News the MSM refuses to use!

Or if they do report it, without the anti-War Agenda Spin!

2 posted on 03/12/2007 5:04:21 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Will they need it for a coming war Iran-Iraq war?

3 posted on 03/12/2007 5:14:41 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: SandRat

4 posted on 03/12/2007 5:18:37 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: SandRat

With million dollar planes, please take this one slowly.

5 posted on 03/12/2007 5:22:57 PM PDT by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: SandRat

I agree that part of taking back control of their country will require gunship support but aren't they biting off more than they can chew at this point?

6 posted on 03/12/2007 5:23:12 PM PDT by dawgmeat9
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To: dawgmeat9

Iraq had an airforce that was the envy of the Middle East not long ago with nearly 1000 warplanes.

The Iraqi Air Force could handle much more then we are giving them at this point.

7 posted on 03/12/2007 5:30:41 PM PDT by jmc1969
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To: Jet Jaguar

8 posted on 03/12/2007 5:38:21 PM PDT by 69ConvertibleFirebird (Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.)
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To: SandRat

While they certainly have right to build a military, I'd like to see them (a) stop killing each other, (b) neutralize the jihadis with a strong police force and rule of law, (c) get the oil flowing and (d) get their infrastructure and economy on track. We'll fly high-cover for them, just like we do with Japan. Am I wrong here?

9 posted on 03/12/2007 5:50:08 PM PDT by opticks
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