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Annals Of Endless Folly: U.S. Helps Rebuild Iraqi Air Force
Iraqi Air Force Marks Major Milestones
Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq Public Affairs
by Lt. Col. Martin Downie
TIKRIT, Iraq - The Iraqi air force celebrated the arrival of four training aircraft, along with a ground breaking for a new air traffic control tower, and finally the handover of facilities for an air college here Dec. 16.
The Iraqi Minister of Defense, Abd Al-Qadir Al-Mufriji was joined by Iraqi Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Hamad Amen Ahmed, Iraqi air force commander and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq commander, along with a host of other senior Iraqi and U.S. military officials to commemorate all three events.
"Today marks a major milestone in rebuilding the Iraqi air force and the security of Iraq," said Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, commander Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq. "Much work remains, but the Iraqi air force continues to make significant progress, and today is another step forward,"
The aircraft are the first of 15 T-6As that will be used as a stepping stone toward training Iraqi pilots to handle more advanced multi-role fighters that the air force would use in the future to protect Iraqi airspace. This $210 million joint US-Iraq venture provides the aircraft to the Iraqi air force, along with flight simulators and associated training. The first eight, purchased by the government of Iraq, will all be at Tikrit by the end of January 2010. The last seven, purchased by the United States, are expected by the end of December 2010.
The construction of a new air traffic control tower at Tikrit, slated to be completed in the latter half of 2010, will provide the base with critical airspace control for its pilot training environment. The tower is planned at nine floors high and will incorporate an air traffic controller simulator in the base of the tower itself for on-site controller training.
In support of the new Iraqi air college that will offer its first courses in January 2010, U.S. forces handed over nine buildings to the Iraqis, which will be used as dormitories by the student pilots. Eventually the entire college facility will be Iraqi operated and will have a capacity of up to 1,500 students learning in various levels of academic and flight training at any given time.