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Sun, Dec 26, 2010

Crews Assemble, Flight Test New Bell Trainers For Iraq

Iraqi Government Will Train Qualified Pilots In U.S. Aircraft

Painted in desert camouflage with a brightly colored flag of Iraq were the words, “Iraqi Army Aviation” in bold letters along the tail ... helicopters were staged on an airfield in Iraq as service members and other personnel worked to assemble and test fly the new aircraft.

T-407 In Iraq U.S. Army Photo

A day after the helicopters were delivered by a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft, personnel began unloading the brand-new rotor blades from their wooden crates. One by one they were assembled on the T-407 helicopters. The Bell T-407s, a training helicopter, will benefit the Iraqi government by training qualified pilots to operate and maintain the Iraqi army 407 Armed Scout Helicopters, which are scheduled to be fielded by the end of 2011. Essentially with the T-407 training aircraft, the GOI and the Army Aviation command will be able to generate IA-407 pilots and teach them how to utilize the cutting-edge avionics the new 407 aircraft provides,” said Air Force Maj. Scott Fitzner, foreign military sales case manager, United States Forces - Iraq.

“To get to this point in the transition is real nice and I’m excited about getting in the cockpit with Lt. Col. Abbas and his staff, getting this transition a little further along,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer Jason Glenn, a Redstone Test Center, Ala., experimental test pilot. “The T-407s will allow the Iraqi pilots to become familiar with the aircraft and practice tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure this is an enduring capability for the long term to utilize the armed version upon delivery,” added Fitzner, a Courtland, MN native.

Once all four rotor blades were mounted onto the T-407 helicopters, aircraft technicians along with Army Chief Warrant Officer Robert Grosnick, of Redstone Arsenal, AL, helicopter pilot with the Program Executive Office - Aviation, and Glenn, began inspecting the aircraft for quality assurance before the first test flight.

T-407 In Iraq U.S. Army Photo

Despite the cold weather and a mild haze over the airfield, Glenn and Grosnick started up the T-407s after the maintenance checks were completed. With all four doors detached, they began the first test flight of the helicopters along with other personnel in the passenger seats, flying in formation over Iraq. “As part of Operation New Dawn, we’re basically advising, training and assisting to get Iraq back on their own feet, as far as internal security and stability, and the T-407s provide a capability that’s critical for them to do that,” said Fitzner.

“The T-407 is the first step for us to help the Iraqi Army Aviation be part of the Iraqi Army who helps to protect and serve our people,” said Lt. Col. Abbas, a commander and instructor pilot, with 21st Squadron, Iraqi Army Aviation Command.

ANN Salutes Specialist Amie McMillan, 10th Public Affairs Operations Center.



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