Iraqi Air Force

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On April 17, 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Defense Ministry announced the progress of the new Iraqi Air Force:

"The Iraqi Air Force not only represents a real military capability and the foundation of a modern air force, but also indicates the re-emergence of Iraq as an air-capable power with an ability to take its share of security responsibilities under a democratic leadership. The Iraqi Air Force will be an integral part of Coalition efforts, with its activities built into Coalition air plans and working closely with ground, maritime and air units to accomplish its mission. The Iraqi Air Force's roles will include the policing of international borders and surveillance of national assets. Air capability will allow Iraq to rapidly deploy its developing Army, and with over 3,500 miles of border, aviation is the only practical method of surveillance.
"Airplanes: The Iraqi Air Force's long-range tactical airlift capability will be initially supported by two C-130B Hercules transport aircraft, which will be operational in October [2004] and based at Baghdad Air Station. The fleet will eventually grow to six aircraft by April of 2005. Each Hercules is capable of transporting 92-troops or 42,000-pounds of freight over a distance of 2,000-miles. Each is manned by a crew of two pilots, a navigator, an air engineer and a loadmaster.
"Helicopters: A squadron of six UH-1H Iroquois helicopters will be operational in July [2004] and stationed at Tadji Air Base. This fleet will increase to sixteen Iroquois by April of 2005. Each is manned by two pilots and capable of carrying 13-troops at 120-knots over a 180-mile range. Its main tasks are border and coastal patrol, troop transport and search and rescue duties.
"Reconnaissance Aircraft: A squadron of light reconnaissance aircraft will be operational later this summer, with four aircraft at Basrah and expanding later, possibly to Kirkuk. This fleet will be tasked with infrastructure and border security duties - reporting problems directly to the appropriate repair and intervention units. The reconnaissance aircraft has yet to be decided upon, but will be a new aircraft and will be operated by two pilots, with Army observers on appropriate missions, able to stay airborne on extended patrol and communicate directly with ground forces.
"Personnel: Members of the former air force were recruited to preserve perishable flying and maintenance skills and to also reduce the cost in creating the new Air Force. More than 100 trainees are currently undergoing instruction from the Royal Jordanian Air Force in Amman. As the initial force is established, recruiting efforts will expand as the Iraqi Air Force has also ready established a presence at the Baghdad and Mosul Recruiting Centers. Non-flying specialist will be drawn from a range of backgrounds, with the majority expected to be recruited in or near to the location in which they will finally be employed. In October, once all have been recruited, the force will be nearly 500 strong, with the majority being divided between bases at Tadji and Baghdad.
"Training: The majority of the Iraqi Air Force aviators, being former pilots, require only 'difference' training to qualify them on their new equipment. However, they are also schooled in the philosophy of a democratically-controlled military. The non-specialist enlisted troops undertake the eight-week basic training course alongside their army colleagues in northern Iraq. Some of the more senior Iraqi Air Force Staff have been selected for overseas training in the United States and an in-country staff course scheduled for late May to prepare selected officers for duties in the Joint and Air Headquarters. The majority of trainees will start their operational service helping to establish the Tadji Air Base and preparing it to receive the helicopter squadron. Following the completion of construction work on the Baghdad Air Station, some of the more experienced staff from Tadji will transfer to Baghdad to teach the incoming new staff and pass on their experience. In addition, Coalition mentoring teams from appropriate specialist areas will assist the Iraqi Air Force in the establishment of the squadrons and bases. In particular they will help to develop safety procedures and standard operating procedures as well as aiding the interface with coalition forces.
"Command & Control: The Air Force will be commanded by a Major General (yet to be appointed), who will normally work at the Air Headquarters in Baghdad and act as the Chief of the Defense Staff's senior air advisor. The force's missions will be determined by the Joint Headquarters. Air missions will be fully integrated into coalition air activity through the Multi-National Force Iraq."

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