Saturday, July 17, 2010

United States to Train 10 Iraqi Air Force Pilots

he Government of Iraq has signed an agreement with the United States for the training of 10 Iraqi Air Force pilots. This agreement follows a March 2010 Iraqi request to purchase 18 new Block 52 F-16s. If the F-16 foreign military sale is approved by the US Congress and the two governments can reach agreement on the terms of the deal, the F-16 program would not only significantly enhance Iraq’s air sovereignty capability, but also serve as a key enabler for a long-term partnership between the two countries.

Brig. Gen. Scott Jansson, Director of the Iraq Security Assistance Mission, said “It has been a pleasure to work with our Iraqi partners to put this program together. Through this and other security cooperation programs, we have developed a strong environment of mutual trust and friendship.”

The pilot training agreement provides for the training of an initial cadre of ten selectively-chosen Iraqi Air Force pilots who are projected to begin training this fall in the United States. Upon graduation, these pilots will have completed all flight training necessary to move immediately into F-16 flying training.

The program will include all necessary components of T-6A Texan II and T-38 Talon training including a course called Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals. The intensive flight training will be complemented with specialized English language training for aviation. The training for each student will last from 12 to 17 months depending on the experience level of the pilot.

“This agreement is the most significant commitment to date by the Ministry of Defense for an F-16 program that will prove to be a key element for an enduring partnership between Iraq and the United States,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, USF-I Deputy Commanding General for Advising and Training Iraqi Security Forces.

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