Defense

September 5, 2012

Iraqi air force F-16 training takes off in Arizona

Col. Andrew MacDonald 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, 2012. MacDonald is the 162nd Operations Group commander. 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 in Tucson, Ariz., 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.

Col. Andrew MacDonald helps Iraqi air force Brig. Gen. Abdulhussein Lafta Ali Ali buckle into an F-16D Fighting Falcon before an orientation flight at Tucson International Airport, Aug. 30, 2012. MacDonald is the 162nd Operations Group commander. 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.

“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 war fighting 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 FW 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 (FW) 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.


 
 

 
navy-china

USS Fort Worth conducts CUES with Chinese Navy

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with the People’s Liberation Army-Navy Jiangkai II frigate Hengshui (FFG 572) Feb. 23 enhancing the professional ma...
 
 

AEGIS tracks, simulates engagement of three short-range ballistic missiles

The Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and USS Barry (DDG 52) successfully completed a flight test involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system. At approximately 2:30 a.m., EST, Feb. 26, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near simultaneously from NASA’s Wallops...
 
 

DOD seeks novel ideas to shape its technological future

The Defense Department is seeking novel ideas to shape its future, and officials are looking to industry, small business, academia, start-ups, the public – anyone, really – to boost its ability to prevail against adversaries whose access to technology grows daily. The program, called the Long-Range Research and Development Plan, or LRRDP, began with an...
 

 

Air Force places 18 A-10 aircraft into ‘Backup Status’

The Air Force, with congressional authorization, will convert 18 primary combat-coded A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from active units and place them into Backup-Aircraft Inventory status with the possibility to convert another 18 at a later date in fiscal year 2015. The secretary of Defense has authorized the Air Force to place up to a total...
 
 

AFRL shape-changing materials make form a function

Air Force Research Laboratory research is shaping the future of aerospace. Through research into soft materials called liquid crystal elastomers, AFRL scientists have developed a method to locally program the mechanical response in polymer sheets without the use of actuators and traditional mechanical parts. This research (sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research)...
 
 
Sensor Concepts Inc. photograph

Air Force Research Labís handheld imaging tool expands aircraft inspection capability

Sensor Concepts Inc. photograph An operator demonstrates the portability of the handheld imaging tool. The technology provides maintainers the ability to evaluate aircraft in the field to ensure mission-readiness. When pilots c...
 




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>