BAGHDAD – In the early stages of development, the Iraqi Air Force planned, executed, and monitored 104 missions in support of Iraqi ground security forces in Basra during Operation Charge of the Knights in the Basra area between Mar. 25 and Apr. 1.
The Iraqi Air Force has seen a significant increase in capacity and capability over the last 13 months. The number of assigned personnel has increased from 915 in February 2007 to 1344 assigned personnel in March 2008.
The fleet of aircraft has similarly undergone a growth spurt utilizing nine different airframes and reaching a current total of 59 aircraft. The Iraqi Air Force increased the number of sorties by 1000 per cent from 30 to 300 per week.
Since January 2008 the Iraqi Air Force has graduated 116 Warrant Officers and 50 Commissioned Officers from the academy located in Taji. These personnel will become the foundation on which the new Iraqi Air Force is being built.
The Iraqi Air Force was tasked with the mission to support the Iraqi ground forces during recent operations in Basra with personnel transportation, medical evacuation, logistical resupply, and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.
The Iraqi Air Force planned and executed the forward deployment of six rotary winged and five fixed winged aircraft to complete this mission set. The aircraft included four Mi-17, two Huey II helicopters, two C-130 and three CH2000 single engine reconnaissance aircraft.
53 Reconnaissance Aircraft Missions
The CH2000 reconnaissance aircraft executed 53 missions for a total of 91 hours of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance over the Basra battlespace. The efforts of these pilots provided valuable intelligence on enemy concentrations and movements, bomb damage assessment, and current status of Iraqi ground units.
The rotary winged aircraft performed 30 missions including logistic support missions moving food, water, and medical supplies throughout the area of operations. They also provided perimeter defense, supported several leaflet drops, and transported Iraqi Security Forces to the fight and evacuated the wounded heroes.
“This is a historic milestone in the growth of the Iraqi Air Force to be able to effectively support on-going operations in Basra with critical air mobility and airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Brooks Bash, Multi National Security Transition Command – Iraq, Coalition Air Force Training Team commander.
Dependable C-130 Hercules
The two Iraqi C-130 Hercules proved once again that it is a rugged and dependable aircraft worthy of its namesake.
During Operation Charge of the Knights, these Iraqi C-130 aircraft and their crews moved 175 tons of cargo including 127 tons of ammunition, 18 tons of food, and eight tons of medical supplies from New al Muthana Air Base in Baghdad to Basra. They were integral in the rapid deployment of over 800 military and civilian security personnel and effected the medical evacuation of 69 Soldiers from Basra to Baghdad.
“The Iraqi people can be very proud that their air force is making a real difference in the fight against those criminal elements who seek to harm innocent Iraqi citizens and disregard the rule of law,” said Bash.