Forces: Iraqi Air Force Flies Hard


March 20,2008: The Iraqi Air Force is now flying over 300 sorties a week, more than ten times what it was flying a year ago. The Iraqi Air Force currently has 56 aircraft (mostly single engine commercial types) and helicopters, and 1,350 personnel, with another 450 in training. A year ago there were only 28 aircraft and 750 personnel. By the end of this year, about a hundred aircraft are to be in service. Flight training for new pilots has resumed at an air base in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq. This area has been largely free of terrorist attacks, which will be a relief to the two hundred or so pilot trainees and their instructors. The training course will last 2-3 years, depending on type of aircraft. Eventually, the program hopes to turn out 130 pilots a year.

The strength of the air force will probably 6,000 in about two years. More helicopters and light (prop and jet trainer) aircraft are being bought. These will be used both for training, and ground attack. Right now, most missions are transport or recon.

Up until now, pilots from the pre-2003 air force were used, as well as men with commercial flying licenses. But as more aircraft are being added over the next few years, the supply of older pilots is running out.


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