January 4, 2008:
The Iraqi Air Force
has received five Beechcraft King Air 350ER reconnaissance aircraft. Iraqi
newspapers are describing these as Iraq's first "jet aircraft" since 2003, but
they are actually twin turboprop aircraft, weighing 7.5 tons each and capable
to spending eight hours in the air per sortie. The 350ERs are equipped like a
recon UAV, with over a ton of day/night cameras and a radar. Also carried are
electronic monitoring equipment. Iraq will also be receiving a passenger
version of the aircraft, which seats eleven in addition to the crew.
Ultimately, Iraq wants to get 24 350ERs and 24 of the passenger version. The
350ER can be used to patrol land borders, or at sea.