Saturday, October 24, 2009

TOP STORY >> Iraqis fly C-130s as training is now over

Air Force News Service

After receiving extensive training at Little Rock Air Force Base, the Iraqi air force has begun independent C-130 air operations, marking the end of the U.S. C-130 air-advisory mission.

The training was completed by the joint efforts of the 314th and 189th Airlift Wings at the Jacksonville air base.

The C-130 Center of Excellence here has trained international military students from 34 countries in all four crew positions — pilot, navigator, flight engineer and loadmaster, as well as specialized maintenance training. The international training effort is managed under the Defense Department’s security-assistance training program, which provides U.S. military training for foreign allies and promotes ties with foreign leaders.

“Last year, the 314th AW provided simulator refresher training for 35 Iraqi aircrew members here at LRAFB and are in negotiations for upcoming training for another 35-40 aircrew,” said Capt. Anna Murray, 714th Training Squadron International Student Flight commander.

The 189th AW trained its first class of Iraqi C-130 aircrew students this year. The course focused on teaching them to better function as aircrews by fostering communication between all crew positions as well as honing the skills they had learned in their initial C-130 training.

The 10-day course took the crew members to the next level in their development.

“From where they began, their skills have grown tenfold. They have made a huge jump in their proficiency and are focused on using the right techniques and procedures,” said Chief Master Sgt. Eddie Milligan, a 189th Airlift Wing loadmaster.

Squadron 23 at New Al-Muthana Air Base is the largest C-130 squadron in the Iraqi air force. Its mission includes delivering troops and cargo, supporting distinguished visitors and flying medical evacuation missions. The squadron began after the United States gave three C-130E aircraft to the Iraqis through the Excess Defense Articles program.

Air-advisory training included a focus on foundational training for pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters, crew chiefs and maintenance specialists in engines, sheet metal, avionics and hydraulics.

The Iraqi air force C-130 airlift mission was born with the arrival in January 2005 of the three U.S. planes at Ali Base. This paved the way for the first aircrew members to receive flight training at Little Rock Air Force Base.

After being assigned to Ali Base since 2005, the squadron moved to New Al-Muthana Air Base in March 2006.

A ceremony deactivating the U.S. Air Force’s 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron and marking assumption of C-130 operations, maintenance and training by the Iraqi air force’s Squadron 23 formalized the milestone.

Presiding over the event were Maj. Gen. Robert C. Kane, the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing commander and director of the Air Force’s Iraq training and advisory mission; Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Hamad Amen Ahmed, the Iraqi air force commander; Brig. Gen.

Kareem Ali Abud, commander of the Iraqi air force’s New Al-Muthana Air Base, and Col. Christopher Pehrson, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Group.