F-16 training session for Iraqis to end by New Year15/09/2012 11:32
ERBIL, September 15 (AKnews) – The training session for Iraqi pilots on F-16 fighters will end by the beginning of next year, revealed Iraq's Air Force Commander.
The Iraqi Air Forces' Commander Staff Lt Gen. Anwer Hamad Amin Ahmad said in a statement "the last group of the pilots will end their training session by the end of this year. The session continues now and it has no issues."
Ahmed added at the moment two pilots are capable to direct the F016 jets with no problem.
The same source recently said that 13 Iraqi pilots are now in the US for taking lessons on piloting F-16 fighters while he was not sure if all of them can successfully pass the tests.
The future Iraqi F-16 pilots are being trained in Texas, at the Laughlin Air Force Base, which had its first graduation ceremony for its specialized undergraduate pilot training program on March 9.
Ahmad was the keynote speaker and pinned silver pilot wings onto his own son, Captain Mohammed Hama Ameen.
Capt. Ameen has returned to Iraq to train on the F-16s.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced last month that the country will receive in spring the first shipment of the F-16 deals which the country signed with the US two years ago.
The announcement came in a meeting with Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Osama al-Nujaifi. The step is " to develop Iraq's army and weaponry capability….”, according to a statement by the PM's office.
In September 2011 Iraq finally ordered 18 of the lower standard fighters for $4.2bn from Lockheed Martin, and later in December ordered another 18 from the company in addition to spares and support for $2.3bn.
Iraq hopes to build a fleet of 96 F-16 jets, which will start flying around 2014-15, reported UPI.
By Mohammed Abdul Rahman