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U.S. begins training Iraqis on Apache helicopters after green light from Congress

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The United States has been preparing for a major military training program for Iraq.

Officials said the U.S. military would train its Iraqi counterpart in the operation of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. They said the program would begin in early March 2014 in Iraq.

U.S. Apache helicopters

U.S. Apache helicopters

“Things are moving rapidly for the first stage of the program,” an official said.

On Feb. 13, a senior military officer said the first stage of the U.S. program would train 16 Iraqis to fly the Apache. Maj. Gen. William Bender, deputy director of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, told a briefing that the training project would include private contractors.

The administration of President Barack Obama has approved an Iraqi request for the export of 24 AH-64E Apaches in a deal worth $4.8 billion. In the first stage of the project, the Pentagon would lease six Apaches to the Iraqi military for training.

In the briefing, Bender said Apache prime contractor Boeing has not begun production of the Apaches for Iraq. He did not elaborate.

The Apaches, which were not blocked by Congress, marked the second
biggest U.S. arms project in Iraq. Bender said the Baghdad government signed
a 30-year contract with Lockheed Martin for the delivery of up to 36 F-16
Block 52 multi-role fighters.

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