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Thu, Jan 13, 2011

Iraqi Airmen Fly Record Number Of Aircraft On Parade Day

Twenty Aircraft Participate In 12 Fly-Overs And Other Demonstrations

Iraqi air force pilots flew a record number of aircraft during the annual Iraqi Army Day Parade Jan. 6 at the International Zone in Baghdad.

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."



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