Twenty Aircraft Participate In 12 Fly-Overs And Other
Iraqi air force pilots flew a record number of aircraft during
the annual Iraqi Army Day Parade Jan. 6 at the International Zone
Iraqi T-6 Texans
Iraqi crews piloted 20 aircraft in 12 fly-overs and aerial
demonstrations over a parade field filled with government officials
from allied nations and Iraqi government leaders, including Prime
Minister Nouri Al Maliki and Lt. Gen. Ahmed Anwar, the Iraqi air
force commander. "This is definitely a significant milestone in the
development of the Iraqi air force," said Capt. Martin Lopez, a
T-6A Texan II instructor pilot assigned to the 52nd Expeditionary
Flying Training Squadron at Coalition Operating Base Speicher in
Tikrit, Iraq. "It demonstrates their increasing capabilities and
movement toward complete air sovereignty."
The T-6, a single-engine turboprop aircraft, is used by the U.S.
Air Force and Iraqi air Force primarily for pilot training,
officials said. It's now playing a significant role in helping
re-establish Iraq's air fleet. "The quality of skill and discipline
of the Iraqis has greatly improved," Captain Lopez said. "They're
taking the training seriously. I've seen improvement since I
arrived in October." American and Iraqi pilots fly together in
training aircraft like the T-6A, featured in the aerial
demonstration during the Iraqi Army Day celebration, he said.
Pilots from Tikrit began the qualification phase of the nearly
year-long training, officials said. The school expects to graduate
16 qualified Iraqi T-6 instructor pilots by the end of the year.
"The objective of our training is to provide a corps of pilots for
a stable, self-sufficient nation," Captain Lopez said. "This record
participation of Iraqi air force aircraft in the Army Day parade
shows we're on track."