News: Iraqi pilots to begin F-16 prerequisite pilot training
By U.S. Air Force Col. Stan L. Vanderwerf, Chief, Iraq Aviation Security Assistance, United States Forces - Iraq, Deputy Commanding General (Advising and Training) Iraq Security Assistance Mission
The Government of Iraq has signed an agreement with the U.S. for 10 Iraqi Air Force pilots to begin prerequisite F-16 training.
This agreement follows the request submitted by the GoI to purchase 18 new Block 52 F-16 airplanes.
If this foreign military sale is approved by the U.S. Congress and the two governments can reach agreement on the terms of the deal, the F-16 program would not only significantly enhance Iraq’s air sovereignty capability, but can also enable a long-term partnership between the two countries.
“It has been a pleasure to work with our Iraqi partners to put this program together,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Jansson, director of the Iraq Security Assistance Mission. “Through this and other security cooperation programs, we have developed a strong environment of mutual trust and friendship.”
The pilot training agreement covers the training of 10 selected Iraqi Air Force pilots who are projected to begin training in the U.S. this fall and will be the cadre for future training. Upon graduation, these pilots will have completed all prerequisite flight training necessary to move immediately into F-16 flying training.
The program will include all necessary components of T-6A Texan II and T-38 Talon training including a course called Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals. The intensive flight training will be complemented with specialized English language training for aviation. The training for each student will last from 12 to 17 months depending on the pilot’s level of experience.
“This agreement is the most significant commitment to date by the Ministry of Defense for an F-16 program that will prove to be a key element for an enduring partnership between Iraq and the United States,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, USF-I Deputy Commanding General for Advising and Training.