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Posted: 8/21/2004 1:42:28 AM EDT
Estados Unidos
Ong > Guerra y Paz @
Noticia nº: 31160
Agencia emisora:
sáb 21 Ago 2004


BASRAH, Iraq - The Iraqi air force commenced operations Aug. 18, with the flights of two SB7L-360 SEEKER Reconnaissance Aircraft (www.seabirdaviationjordan.com/) in "limited operations missions" intended to protect infrastructure facilities and Iraq's borders as part of the Iraqi government's continuing mission to provide peace and security to the citizens of Iraq.

The missions, limited in scope, are intended to serve as follow-on training for the force's pilots while simultaneously supporting the ongoing security mission in the country. Multi-National Force trainers will continue to accompany Iraqi pilots in a support role.

"We are rebuilding the air force, and it is giving us a different responsibility," Iraqi air force Col. Abed (surname withheld for security reasons) said. "These flights are meant to protect the oil installations, power lines and protect our borders from our enemies.

"This is the first move of our air force that will provide security," Abed said. "And this is very essential given the nature of our problems right now inside our country. And we can use them for peaceful missions as well."

The aircraft, single-engine, two-man, high-visibility aircraft fitted with high-resolution surveillance systems, were originally purchased in June in Amman, Jordan. They are the first of an eventual force of ten light aircraft - of similar capability - that will be contracted for by Sept. 21.

The Australian aircraft are capable of providing live observation feedback to ground forces and additionally carry digital video recording hardware and other reconnaissance technology. Their employ will be coordinated with Iraqi and Multi-National Force force efforts on the ground and will eventually include operations all over the country as the government deems necessary.

"Their attitude and training is very good," Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, Chief of Aviation, Group Capt. Neil Jagger said. "And, considering many of the pilots have had limited flying in recent years, their pilot skills are coming along very well," the British Royal Air Force officer said.

The Coalition Military Assistance Training Team is a branch of the Office of Security Transition / Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq specifically tasked with assisting the Iraqi government train and equip its armed forces.

"But this is a new concept of flying compared to what they experienced in their old air force," Jagger said. "We're helping to develop their general awareness with everything around them."

Continued operational training will include additional emphasis on map-reading and navigation orientation in the air. The old air force had previously placed more of an emphasis on getting airborne before receiving direction from the ground on operational details and destinations. Pilots have previously undergone instruction in Jordan and began workup training for operations in Iraq Aug. 7. The aircraft are intended to represent an interim capability until future craft and forces are in place to augment the existing structure.

"I like to operate these aircraft because they are peaceful" Abed said, himself a colonel in the former regime's air force having flown MIG-23 jetfighters for 23 years before joining the new air force.

The Iraqi air force currently consists of some 162 servicemen and is slated to reach its initial goal of 502 trained personnel by December 2004.

"Before our mission was very combative to other countries and threatening to other countries," he said. "Now our mission is to serve our country.

"We want to prove that the coalition is not an invading force, but a force that gave us our independence," Abed said.

"And we want to protect that," he added. "This is a new mission for us."

Link Posted: 8/21/2004 1:50:38 AM EDT
I can't think of a more important mission and I'm glad to see they are coming along well. If their eyes in the sky can help watch over the oil wells, pipelines and border areas, that could be a big boost to the efforts there. As things stand, the two biggest problems in Iraq are the foreign fighters coming into the nation and the sabotage of the resources that will pay for the reconstruction. I hope these men can help make a major dent in such activity. And their attitude is nice to see. Too bad you don't get to hear very many positive stories like this in the mainstream media.
Link Posted: 8/21/2004 3:57:04 AM EDT
Holy shit!  I "designed" a plane just like that when I was 12, and Ive never seen that plane before.  My design was better though.
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