Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Iraqi Air Force gets new aircraft

The Iraqi military continues to make strides towards self sufficiency.

The U.S. transfered ownership of eight Cessna 172s and three Cessna Caravan 208s to the Iraqi Air Force in a ceremony at New Al Muthana Air Base in Iraq today.

The Iraqis will use the aircraft, v
alued over $9 million, to train pilots.

The Iraqi training program will mirror U.S. methods, utilizing the smaller 172s for initial training. The pilots will then graduate to the more advanced 208.

The new aircraft will allow the Iraqis to train 130 new pilots a year, according to military sources.

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Brooks L. Bash praised the fledgling Iraqi Air Force. He called them "an important part of the declining attack levels in those areas and throughout the country."

The Iraqi Air Force recently successfully participated in
coalition operations in Basra and Mosul and in Baghdad’s Sadr City district.

Air intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and King Air light transport aircraft were also unveiled during the ceremony. The Iraqi Defense Ministry purchased the aircraft, making them the first country in the world to possess this technology.

Bash said the new aircraft signifies the strong partnership between Iraq and the United States.

It also represents the strength and growth of Iraqi forces as they continue to fight terrorism and provide security and new capabilities to their country,” he said.

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