Iraqi Air Force Surges

According to US Air Force officials, the fledgling Iraqi Air Force at not quite mid-year already has produced 80 percent more sorties than it did last year. “We are now seeing concrete evidence that they have returned to the skies and are proving themselves a credible force for safety, security, and sovereignty,” said Col. David Penny, head of the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group. Currently, the Iraqi Air Force has 100 pilots for eight rotary and fixed-wing flying units, has graduated more than 300 pilots (some serve in the training schools, in staff positions, and at its air operations center. It has another 200 pilot trainees. Penny said: “Last year, we were building an air force together. … This year, they have taken the reins in operations. They’re working very hard, and their efforts are working to dissolve terrorist cells in Iraq.” (Sather Air Base report by TSgt. Amanda Callahan)