Iraq to triple its air force with U.S. help by 2010
WASHINGTON — The Iraq Air Force plans a major
expansion over the next year.
In a program overseen by the U.S. Defense Department, the air force plans to
reach 6,000 personnel, or nearly triple its current force, by 2010.
"Despite its rapid growth in the past year, the IqAF lags behind all
major Middle Eastern air forces, and achieving a credible and enduring IqAF
will require continued coalition support," a Pentagon report said.
The report, "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq," said training
remains a top priority within the air force, Middle East Newsline reported. The military service has been
struggling with a shortage of skilled manpower, particularly in specialty
areas, which has affected procurement plans.
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In 2008, the air force procured 36 aircraft to reach 89 platforms. The
report said the air force would procure another 34 helicopters and
fixed-wing aircraft in 2009.
"The IqAF's inexperience in acquisition continues to make procurement a
challenge," the report said. "This is complicated by a process that requires
the defense minister to make most acquisition decisions."
The report said the air force would achieve an initial precision
air-ground attack capability in early 2009. The Iraqi military has been
preparing for the delivery of 20 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles for use
with the U.S.-origin AC-208 Combat Caravan fixed-wing aircraft.
The Pentagon envisioned slow development of the air force. The report
said the Iraqis were making progress in the area of intelligence,
surveillance and reconaissance as well as airlift for counter-insurgency
"These areas should achieve foundational capability by December 2010,"
the report said. "Ground attack, airspace control, and C2 [command and
control] lag behind, with these foundational capabilities expected by