By SOF Editor on Fri, 11/13/2009 - 11:47am
For the first time since the re-formation of the Iraqi air force, an Iraqi pilot fired a missile from an aircraft Nov. 4, at a target on a bombing range near Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.
A three-man Iraqi aircrew from Squadron 3 fired an AGM-114 Hellfire missile from an AC-208 Caravan, officials at Multinational Force Security Transition Command Iraq announced in a Nov. 10 press release.
The event marked a milestone for the Iraqi military as they become increasingly responsible for their own security. The ability for Iraqi aircrews to launch missiles from the AC-208 will dramatically improve their ability to operationally support Iraqi security forces on the ground and achieves a key foundational capability for a credible and enduring Iraqi air force.
"These rockets will have a great and active role in fighting terrorism in all parts of Iraq," said Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Hamad Amen Ahmed, the commander of the Iraqi air force.
"I'm extremely proud of both the Iraqi air force and our advisor team," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Rob Kane, the director of Iraq Training Advisory Mission-Air Force. "Together we have all worked hard to make this important day a reality. From the enlisted crews who loaded the missiles, to the aircrew who employed the system, to the air operations directors who integrated the entire sequence of clearance and authorization, this live-fire exercise was a perfect example of what a strong professional partnership between air forces looks like."
The capability is several years in the making and is a dramatic step forward in establishing the Iraqi military as a credible and effective force for defending the people of Iraq, said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, commander of Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq.