News: Iraqi Air Force celebrates 78th Anniversary
Story by Capt. Thomas Avilucea
AL MUTHANA, Iraq — Iraqi air orce day began with the press gathering at the Triumphal Arches [Cross Swords] in downtown Baghdad; which set the tone for the celebration of the 78th anniversary of the Iraqi air force. To demonstrate the Air Forces' capabilities, the Ministry of Defense transported the media in three Mi-17 Transport Helicopters to Al Muthana Air Base, on April 22.
The media was very excited as they lifted off from downtown Baghdad and arrived at Al Muthana AB, they quickly dispersed in excitement to cover the event for the Iraqi people and the surrounding countries. The Iraqi air force had many aircraft displayed to include: C-130 Hercules, B350 King Air Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance plane, Mi-17 Transport Helicopter, AC208 "Combat" Caravan, CH2000 SAMA, C172 Cessna Skyhawk, and UH-1 Huey.
The Iraqi air force was established in 1931 and the rebuilding of the force began in 2004. Iraqi army Gen. Babakir, chief of staff, Iraqi joint forces stated, "We have established the Iraqi air force from nothing to where it is today. The Air Force has enhanced the security of the country and we now have the ability to provide vital information to the commanders on the ground to protect all the infrastructure of Iraq."
Iraqi army staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Ahmed, Iraqi air force commander addresses the over 200 in attendance at the celebration, "The Air Force needs is being developed from aircraft maintenance, to the training of its officers." He also added, "The Iraqi air force, thanks to the help of U.S Army Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, the United States Air Force and all the teams that have worked besides us, are moving forward to achieve our goals."
Abd Al Qadir, Iraqi minister of defense stated, "We are here to celebrate the 78th anniversary of the Air Force. We started to rebuild the Iraqi air force in 2004 with the support of the Ministry of Defense. And the Air Force is now part of the structure that defends the country of Iraq."
The Iraqi air force has grown in personnel, inventory, training and operations over last several years. In 2009, the Air Force has achieved the first Night Vision Goggles navigation mission by an all Iraqi crew, established ISR capabilities that are shared with the ministry of Interior to support police operations and the continued development of the Air Force cadre. And most significantly the transition of governance from coalition to Iraqi leadership in conducting air operations over Iraq.
The Multi-National Security Transition Command — Iraq's efforts in developing the Iraqi air force highlight the commitment between the governments of the United States and Iraq. The improving capabilities of the Iraqi-led operations support the mission to create a secure and stable Iraq. This is a great achievement that supports the Security Agreement between the United States and the Government of Iraq.