Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Iraqi Air Force Turns 75 Years Old
They're about 20 years older than our own Air Force, and in about 10 years they'll be the Jewel of the Middle East.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (April 24, 2006) - On April 22, as Iraq's democratically-elected leaders filled several key positions to help lead the new national unity government forward, the country celebrated another historic event, the founding of the Iraqi Air Force.
The Iraqi Air Force traces its roots to five pilots and 32 aircraft mechanics who officially formed the country's first air force on April 22, 1931, at a small airport in Baghdad's al-Washash neighborhood.
Although Iraq's air force is much smaller now than during the Saddam Hussein era, now it is better than before, Iraqi Col."Jabber," a nickname he uses to protect his identity, said in March.
"Now our air force supports the government and the people," he said. In the past the air force only supported Saddam, said the colonel.
This week, General George W. Casey Jr., Multi-National Force - Iraq, commanding general, described the Iraqi Air Force as an "efficient and growing member of Iraq's joint security forces, making important contributions to the safety and liberty of the Iraqi people."
The general said the five operational squadrons of the Iraqi Air Force provide key reconnaissance and transportation support to Iraq's civil and military security forces.
One C-130 transport squadron; two reconnaissance squadrons of CH2000, Compair, and Seeker aircraft; and two utility squadrons equipped with UH-1 Huey and Bell Jet Ranger helicopters conduct support operations to detect and interdict illegal activity throughout Iraq. The Ministry of Defense also purchased Russian-made Mi- 17 helicopters, which will be integrated into the IAF's existing helicopter squadron and will be used in a support capacity.
Additionally, Iraqi Air Force surveillance operations help protect critical infrastructure and prevent foreign terrorist infiltration. Equally important, the Iraqi Air Force provides transportation and sustainment to ground forces defending against terrorist and insurgent threats.
Casey said the Iraqi Air Force's capabilities will continue to grow with the formation of a third utility squadron equipped with 10 recently purchased Mi-17 Hip helicopters and other programmed improvements.
"The Iraqi Air Force has become an integral part of the frontline defense and a strategic partner in Iraq's stable and secure future," added the general.
Casey said the April 23 commemoration allowed the men and women of the Iraqi Air Force to pause to reflect on the proud traditions of serving their fellow citizens and their work towards a peaceful future.
"All these brave Iraqis have chosen the ideals of selfless service, national unity, and integrity to guide the path toward peace, prosperity and security self-reliance. On behalf of the Coalition, I congratulate the Iraqi Air Force and all members of the Iraqi security forces for their dedication and sacrifice to preserve liberty in Iraq."
posted by El Capitan at 10:34 AM