Iraqi F-16 Pilot Training Taking Shape

Brig. Gen. Abdulhussein Lafta Ali Ali, who oversees the Iraqi air force’s operations directorate, last week led an Iraqi delegation to the Air Force’s international F-16 schoolhouse at Tucson International Airport in Arizona to observe first-hand the training Iraqi pilots are receiving on the multirole fighter. Iraq intends to acquire 36 F-16s, 18 of which are already on order. With the first deliveries scheduled for September 2014, two Iraqi pilots are already in Tucson training with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing. Overall, 27 Iraqi pilots are slated to learn to fly the jet there. “The F-16 project is most important for our two nations,” said Ali, who took an orientation flight in an F-16D during his visit. He added, “It’s important for us to understand the training schedule and syllabus for our student pilots because the first pilots who train here will one day be examples for our other pilots.” (Tucson report by Maj. Gabe Johnson)