Coalition Provisional Authority
Contact: J. Pepper Bryars
April 17, 2004
Development of the Iraqi Air Force
Baghdad, Iraq - Senior officials from the Coalition Provisional Authority and
the Ministry of Defense held a briefing Saturday morning where they detailed the
progress of the new Iraqi Air Force.
During the briefing the following fact sheet was distributed:
Iraqi Air Force Fact Sheet
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 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 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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