BAGHDAD: Iraqi air force pilots took possession of three T-6A aircraft in Amman, Jordan, and flew them to Tikrit Sept. 21, bringing their total T-6A inventory to 11.
Like U.S. military pilots, the Iraqis must master the T-6A before going on to fly more sophisticated multi-role fighter aircraft.
The Iraqi air force received its first four T-6As in December 2009, followed by four more last February, with an additional four scheduled for delivery in November.
These additional planes will help the Iraqi air force reach its goal of developing a self-sustaining pilot training program by increasing its capability to train new pilots and strengthening the foundation for a professional, credible and enduring Iraqi air force, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Eric Weingaertner, a training advisor with Iraq Training and Advisory Mission – Air Force.
The timing of the T-6A arrival coincided with the first graduation ceremony for 20 new Iraqi Air Force pilots – eight fixed-wing and 12 rotary-wing — at the Iraqi Air Force College. All previous ceremonies took place in Kirkuk.
This graduation now brings the total number of Iraqi air force pilots trained through this program to 102 – 55 fixed-wing and 47 rotary-wing.
The Iraqi Air Force College opened its doors for classes in Tikrit March 11.
The U.S. Air Force’s 52nd Expeditionary Flying Training Squadron is currently training 12 instructor pilot candidates to serve as instructors in the T-6A aircraft. The first four of these instructor pilots are projected to complete training by summer 2011, and the remaining eight by fall 2011.