Air Force

September 6, 2012

Iraqi Air Force F-16 training takes off in Arizona

Tags:
Maj. Gabe Johnson
162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Gabe Johnson)
Col. Andrew MacDonald, 162nd Operations Group commander, shows Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Abdulhussein Lafta Ali Ali how to pre-flight an F-16D Fighting Falcon before an orientation flight at Tucson International Airport Aug. 30. Abdulhussein, with a delegation of senior Iraqi officers, visited the international F-16 training wing where Iraqi pilots are learning to fly the multirole fighter.

While the Republic of Iraq anticipates an initial delivery of F-16 Fighting Falcons in September 2014, the pilots who will fly them embark on a historic partnership with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing here to learn how to fly the multipurpose fighter.

Already, two Iraqis have joined aspiring fighter pilots from the United States, Singapore, Poland, Denmark, Japan and the Netherlands at the U.S. Air Force’s international F-16 schoolhouse at Tucson International Airport. A delegation of senior Iraqi Air Force officers visited the unit Aug. 30 to assess their students’ progress and reaffirm their partnership with the desert fighter wing.

“We have an opportunity to work with a critical partner in a very strategic region of world,” said Col. Mick McGuire, 162nd Fighter Wing commander. “They have an opportunity to see what a professional operation we are and as a result of their visit I think we’ll have a long-standing relationship with the Iraqi Air Force – at least through 2020 – training F-16 pilots and providing a true coalition warfighting partner for the United States and an ability for them to defend their country for years to come.”

In 1986, Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Abdulhussein Lafta Ali Ali flew Soviet-era MiG-21s but said he dreamed of flying the F-16.

Now visiting Tucson as a senior officer in his air force’s operations directorate, he flew with American pilots to experience the F-16’s capabilities and the unique demands of U.S. fighter training.

“The F-16 project is most important for our two nations,” he said. “This is the first time Iraqis have flown F-16s. It’s important for us to understand the training schedule and syllabus for our student pilots because the first pilots who train here will one day be examples for our other pilots.”

After his orientation flight, Abdulhussein noted the F-16’s high thrust to weight ratio, maneuverability, aerodynamic shape, avionics, load capacity, and its design which allows pilots to better endure G forces.

“We reached more than 7 Gs during our flight, and the [tilt-back] angle of the seat made it easy. In the MiG-21 the seat is more vertical making G forces difficult,” he said. “This is the best aircraft for us and this is the best place for our pilots to train.”

Air Guardsmen here train more than 70 international student pilots per year, offering several training programs that range from initial F-16 training to qualify new pilots to an advanced weapons course. Under the current contract between the U.S. and Iraq, the 162nd will train a total of 27 Iraqi pilots.

Until they receive their own fighters, the initial cadre of pilots will remain in Tucson. After they complete the six-to-eight month basic course they will continue through flight lead upgrade training, additional seasoning and instructor pilot certification.

According to McGuire, a tailored syllabus is among several factors that make the wing an attractive option for international fighter pilot training.

“First and foremost, the 162nd has an unparalleled safety record because our maintainers average 18 years of experience specializing on the F-16,” said the colonel. “That instills confidence in the nations we train.”

Adding to the secure feeling of flying aircraft from one of the safest F-16 fleets in the world is the freedom afforded by Arizona’s plentiful ranges, he said.

The Barry Goldwater Range in southwest Arizona consists of 2.7 million acres of relatively undisturbed Sonoran desert. Overhead are 57,000 cubic miles of airspace where fighter pilots can practice air-to-air maneuvers and engage simulated battlefield targets on the ground.

“Finally, we average 17,000 flying hours per year, and we’re able to do that because of Arizona’s year-round flying weather. Less than 3 percent of scheduled sorties here are canceled due to weather,” he said.

The elements add up to optimal flight-training conditions which allow the wing’s cadre of 80 instructor pilots to execute an aggressive training schedule.

“The students get the best possible flight education when they come here,” said McGuire, “and our Airmen take great pride in their mission – they see the big picture.”

“Partnership building it’s about flying together, operating together and training together, so if we have to, we can fight together. On a deeper level, it’s about friendships. With F-16s in operation around the world, creating the foundation of a relationship is absolutely invaluable.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

55th Electronic Combat Group

The 55th Electronic Combat Group provides combat-ready EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, crews, maintenance and operational support to combatant commanders. The group also plans and executes information operations, including information warfare and electronic attack, in support of theater campaign plans.
 
 

AF focuses fourth round of VERA/VSIP on headquarters reductions

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – In an effort to lead its force management actions with voluntary programs, the Air Force announced a fourth round of civilian workforce shaping measures beginning July 21. This follows the recent Air Force announcement on headquarters organization and staffing reductions. Those changes are designed to eliminate redundant activities and improve efficiencies while also...
 
 

Tattoos: Good, bad, permanent

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  – Tattoos are becoming more commonplace in today’s society and therefore in the Air Force, which makes it important for Airmen to know what they are getting into before making a decision that will last a lifetime. Getting a tattoo can be a great way for someone to commemorate a moment in...
 

 

Wanted: Airmen selfie videos

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – Do you have a unique story about the path that led you to the Air Force? Are you proud of your job and how it impacts the bigger Air Force mission? Do you work in an exceptional unit? If so, the Air Force wants to hear from you! The 2014 American Airman Video Contest,...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brett Clashman)

“Solicit help; don’t hide”

Over the years, the term “Wingman” has evolved in the Air Force. The traditional military definition of a Wingman refers to the pattern in which fighter jets fly. There is always a lead aircraft and another which flies off ...
 
 

Air Force announces changes to headquarters organization

Air Force leaders announced changes to headquarters staff manning and organization today. The Air Force will create efficiencies by deactivating and realigning organizations at Headquarters Air Force, Major Commands, Numbered Air Forces and Field Operating Agencies, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion across the Air Force in the next five years. “I will work to...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin