What should fly in the Iraqi Air Force?

June 24th, 2006  

Topic: What should fly in the Iraqi Air Force?

What Should Fly in the Iraqi Air Force?
InsideDefense.com NewsStand | Martin Matishak | June 23, 2006
Coalition and Iraqi air force officials will gather for a series of conferences over the next few weeks to determine what airframes and other capabilities the nascent force should to add to its expanding portfolio, a senior defense official tells Inside the Air Force.

The conferences, slated to take place in “the next few weeks,” will focus on increasing the number of personnel in the nation's air force, the future procurement of new aircraft, and additional missions and responsibilities the force will take over from U.S. and coalition forces, Brig. Gen. Stephen Hoog, director of the air component coordination element of Multi-National Force-Iraq, said during a June 7 telephone interview. He also serves as the commander of the Coalition Air Force Transition Team (CAFTT), which answers to the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq for its efforts to stand up the Iraqi air force.

However, even as Iraqi personnel take on more responsibilities, U.S. and coalition air power will have to remain in place, even as American and coalition ground forces pull out, according to Hoog and other U.S. defense officials.

“I don't see the air presence leading the reduction, I see it lagging the reduction of the ground forces, a certain amount of time, months, years or so, so that it all consolidates in a well thought out, carefully orchestrated manner,” he said.

Hoog's comments echo those made by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley in February during an industry conference held just outside Orlando, FL (ITAF, Feb. 10, p9).

“We've been talking about this in the tank,” Moseley said in reference to the secure room within the Pentagon where senior leaders meet, commonly known as “the tank.”

Military leaders have examined how tactical air support has been provided to troops operating inside Afghanistan and Iraq, but added he is unsure whether lessons gleaned in recent years constitute a sufficient blueprint for Iraq after its own security forces take over. “I'm not sure that that'll give us the depth and robustness to be able to do this” in a similar manner in Iraq, the air chief said. He noted that during the senior-level discussions, officials have discussed “Army and Marine Corps partnership in this.”

While senior military leaders continue to debate how fire support will be called in to support Iraqi forces' security operations after U.S. troops leave that nation, they have yet to reach a final decision. In short, Moseley said senior leaders simply “don't know” at this point what the tactical air support policy for post-occupied Iraq will look like.
Hoog stressed that his organization's objective is in step with past comments by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. leaders who hope to scale back American military involvement in Iraq and once Iraqi forces are more self-reliant. ITAF last summer first reported on efforts to build a viable Iraqi air force (ITAF, July 29, 2005, p3).
“The overall goal right now in 2006 and 2007 is to transition capability” to the IAF, Hoog said.

ITAF first reported last August that service officials next month will begin a series of “defense strategy” meetings to develop a roadmap for the Iraqi air force (ITAF, Aug. 26, 2005, p1). Service brass also would plot the structure of the nascent force, determine the missions it will execute and analyze the capabilities it may require.

Hoog said one of the most significant decisions made during those meetings was the stand up of the CAFTT organization.

“Now you have an organization, a CAFTT organization, we have dedicated airmen who are embedded with the Iraqi air staff,” the one-star said. “We have an A-6 sitting next to their A-6 talking comm issues, air traffic control comm, radar networks, how we start doing the command and control of the airspace. An A-9 working issues in logistics, and A-2 working intel and all those things.”

The Iraqi air force currently has about 749 personnel. Of that number, 155 are pilots for the fleet's rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, according to Hoog. The remaining personnel include maintainers, air traffic controllers, security and logistics staff, he said.

ITAF reported last summer that the short-term goal was to swell that to about 1,500 within the next year. Hoog said that number is still the benchmark but added officials are looking to increase that figure slightly up to 2,000 within the next 12 months.

“We have a plan that takes it up from 1,500 to 2,000, to 2,900 that goes from fall to spring to the end of 2007,” he said, adding any personnel hikes will be discussed in the upcoming powwows and ultimately must by approved by the Iraqi MOD.

The CAFTT chief said the Iraqi air force has between 70 or 80 trainers but that number is set to ramp up to 125 by the end of this year as some of the airplanes the Iraqis have been waiting for arrive.
For example, the Iraqi air force received 16 UH-1H helicopters as a gift from Jordan. Those aircraft, however, had to be upgraded to the Huey II configuration to improve performance in Iraq's hot climate. Therefore, the “helicopter pilots here don't have airplanes to fly because all 16 of those airplanes went back state-side” for modifications, Hoog told ITAF.
Those helicopters will be ready for use at the very end of this year or early next year, he said. In addition, M-17 helicopters are in country but require modification. Those aircraft will begin flying this September, Hoog noted.

The one-star said the air component's overall training approach mirrors that of the ground forces, with coalition and U.S. personnel being embedded with Iraqi squadrons, dubbed “mission integration teams.”
The most mature air integration team is located at New Al Muthana in the southern portion of the nation. There, an Iraqi unit and a U.S. C-130 unit are operating together, according to Hoog. The least mature teams are the helicopter training teams because a bulk of the airframes slated to be assigned to those outfits required upgrades and other modifications, he continued. “A majority of the helicopter effort won't start until the fall of this year,” Hoog said.

In recent months, the Iraqi air force has used their fleet of a half-dozen C-130s airlifters to perform troop and supply movements. Another squadron in the city of Basrah in southern Iraq also conducts air surveillance, in particular along the country's southern oil pipelines and coast line in support of the Iraqi navy.

One crucial item on the agenda for the upcoming meetings is the procurement of new aircraft, especially an intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft that has been tapped to take the maiden voyage through the Iraqi MOD's newly constructed procurement process (see related story).

“We've already talked about the aircraft,” according to Hoog. “It's basically just bringing it up slowly for what they need to fight the current fight. It's not like they're going to add a whole new category of airplanes or anything. They're not going to buy air defense surface-to-air missile systems because they have no need to do so in the next few years.”
The CAFTT chief said all of the operational missions the Iraqi air force currently conducts are counter-insurgency efforts, particularly what officials call “infrastructure protection.”

“The number one interdiction targets for the insurgents, top two are probably the oil pipelines and the electrical power lines and towers,” he told ITAF, noting the pipeline surveillance missions being deployed from Basra are a prime example of such efforts. “The less oil they export, the less money Iraq has to build,” Hoog said.

Another key topic of discussion at the upcoming meetings will be the possibility of transferring operations of four bases in the still-volatile country over to Iraqi troops, he told ITAF.

“One of the things that they're discussing right now is will the Iraqi air force run Kirkuk Air Base all by itself when the Army and the Air Force pull out some time in the next 18 months?” Hoog asked. “And if so, then they need to [bolster] their manpower to do all those functions like guard the gate . . . feed people, have a computer network and all those things it takes to run a base.”

Those additional personnel were not included in the original plan of 1,500 to 1,600 airmen, he noted. Therefore, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has to look at it and make a key decision: “Do [they] want to keep Kirkuk as an operating base? If the answer is yes then they'll plus up the manpower and equipment so they can start that transition,” the one-star said.
Another initiative being launched at Kirkuk is aimed at allowing Iraqis to take over air traffic control tasks.

the rest is here (the article was to big to post)

June 28th, 2006  
major liability
I think we should just give them F-16s and Hinds...
June 29th, 2006  
I dont think they really even need fixed winged for a while. Helicopters for sure though, the super-cobra would server them well
June 29th, 2006  
I think since they're staying with Eastern Bloc Gear for their ground forces. Do the same for the Air Forces. They will not need any fixed wing fighter/bomber air craft right now. They do need some transports and some light utility bush planes. Mil-24 Hinds and Mil-8 Hips would serve them well for helicoptors.
June 29th, 2006  
African buzzards and California condors for the air force and for ground forces the Texas aardvark. Anything else is too valuable for us to have to blow up when we return to straighten them out again next time.
June 29th, 2006  
Originally Posted by 5.56X45mm
Mil-24 Hinds and Mil-8 Hips would serve them well for helicoptors.
I agree, but I think they should get some f/a airplanes for "show of force". Aircrafts make more "RRROOARR" than the chopchopchopchopers
June 29th, 2006  

Originally Posted by bulldogg
African buzzards and California condors for the air force and for ground forces the Texas aardvark. Anything else is too valuable for us to have to blow up when we return to straighten them out again next time.
I like your thinking. I agree.
June 29th, 2006  
Mohmar Deathstrike
Reactivate and give'em the RAH-66 Comanche the Americans cancelled. Also Chinooks, C-130s, F-22s, F-117s.
June 29th, 2006  
Originally Posted by Mohmar Deathstrike
Reactivate and give'em the RAH-66 Comanche the Americans cancelled. Also Chinooks, C-130s, F-22s, F-117s.
I don't think we should give them anything that advanced...
June 29th, 2006  
Reactivate and give'em the RAH-66 Comanche the Americans cancelled. Also Chinooks, C-130s, F-22s, F-117s.
You are kidding arent you?

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