You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Iraqi F-16s to be based out of Balad

Jun. 5, 2014 - 08:07PM   |  
Iraq's first F-16, RB-01, takes its first flight over Fort Worth, Texas. On Thursday, the Iraqi government took ownership of the F-16, the first of 36 planned by 2017.
Iraq's first F-16, RB-01, takes its first flight over Fort Worth, Texas. On Thursday, the Iraqi government took ownership of the F-16, the first of 36 planned by 2017. (Liz Kaszynski)
  • Filed Under

Nearly three years after the last U.S. troops left Iraq, F-16s are returning to Balad — this time, they will be the vanguard of the Iraqi air force.

Balad was a major U.S. base during the war and one of the busiest airfields in the world at one point. Now the U.S. government is helping the Iraqis make sure the base will be ready for the first batch of F-16s, which are expected to be delivered in September, said Lukman Faily, Iraqi ambassador to the U.S.

On Thursday, the Iraqi government took ownership of the first of 36 F-16s fighters that will be delivered between September and the fall of 2017. The fighters will allow Iraq to secure its border with Syria, attack al-Qadia bases in western Iraq — including Ramadi — and intercept any planes transiting its airspace that it wants to inspect, Faily told Military Times on Thursday.

U.S officials have pressed the Iraqi government to stop Iran from using Iraqi airspace to fly weapons and other supplies to President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria.

Iraqi pilots have been training to fly F-16s in the U.S. Each combat mission requires a minimum of two F-16s: a flight lead and a wingman, said Jennifer Spires, a spokeswoman for Air Education and Training Command. After finishing the basic course in F-16 training; pilots must complete about nine months of wingman training, another 18 to 24 months of “seasoning” training to be a flight lead. Instructor pilots need another 18 to 24 months of training.

“In the case of the Iraq pilots, eight have graduated from the basic course and are therefore considered ‘wingmen.’” Spires said in an email Wednesday. “They are now completing ‘seasoning’ training and will become ‘Flight Lead's’ upon graduation. Following seasoning training, the Flight Leads will go on to complete instructor training so that they can train future wingmen.”

Even though the Iraqi pilots are still in training, Faily said it won’t be long before the Iraqi F-16s are in the fight.

“We already have the pilots ready — we have quite a few of them and they have a few hundred hours under their belt,” he said. “We don’t anticipate a long delay for us to start utilizing that capability.”

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Air Force Times

This Week's Air Force Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook