Iraqi Air Force makes milestone landing at combat outpost
Sunday, 17 June 2007
BAGHDAD — The Iraqi Air Force landed a milestone mark towards independence Wednesday by flying an Iraqi government official to a combat outpost in east Baghdad.
A UH-1 Huey, flown by members of the Iraqi Air Force Military Transition Team flew Iraqi Minister of Defense Ali Allawi to Combat Outpost “Old Mod,” marking the first time an Iraqi aircraft has landed there.
The UH-1 Huey consisted of one Iraqi pilot, one American pilot and one American gunner, said U.S. Army Sgt. Class Eric D. Radecki, the operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the 1st Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division’s MiTT, which is comprised of members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
“Prior to this you’d see a lot of higher ranking Iraqis flying on American birds,” Radecki said. “Now that they’re flying on Iraqi aircraft, it’s one more step to doing things on their own, without our support.”
Ali Allawi was making a scheduled stop to inspect members of the 11th Iraqi Army Division and see how they were progressing, he said.
“The Air Force MiTT team briefed the (2nd BCT) MiTT team on the Iraqi Air Force’s step in learning anti-terrorism tactics,” Radecki said. “They will soon gain that air-mobile ability.”
Gaining air mobility will allow Iraqis to put troops out into a sector at a moments notice and it will also enable them to conduct targeted raids and reduce the danger for their Soldiers by reducing the need for convoys, Radecki said.
While the Iraqi Huey’s has some maintenance issues, they are being addressed, he said.
“Hopefully we’ll see more Iraqi aircraft flying over the capital doing patrols,” Radecki said.
The Iraqi Air Force currently continues to train in aerial operations. Their ability to operate and maintain their own aircraft continues to advance them to operating independently.
(U.S. Army story by Spc. Courtney Marulli, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs)
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