BAGHDAD â€“ The Iraqi Army Aviation Command showcased the arrival of three new Bell T-407 training helicopters with a ceremony and aerial display at Camp Taji Dec. 15.
â€œThis is a landmark occasion for the Government of Iraq,â€ said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Hanson, director of Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force, and commander of the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing. â€œThese T-407s are critical to building a modern, dependable capability in the Iraqi Army Aviation Command.â€
These helicopters are to be used to train Iraqi Army pilots as a prelude to an expected delivery of Armed Scout Helicopters by the end of next year, Hanson said.
â€œBeginning training today with these aircraft, [Iraqâ€™s] Army aviation will accelerate self-sufficiency and aircraft sustainment,â€ Hanson said.
â€œThe United States is committed to supporting Iraqâ€™s journey in democracy,â€ said Iraqi Army Gen. Babakir Zebari, commander of Iraqâ€™s armed forces and Ministry of Defense chief of staff. â€œThese helicopters will greatly boost our work to maintain security and fight terrorism.â€
Armed Scout Helicopters are equipped with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and data-link capabilities; and armed with a .50 caliber machinegun and 2.75-inch rockets.
â€œThe armed scout helicopter represents a significant leap in technology for army aviation,â€ Hanson said. â€œThis will greatly enhance the ability to integrate air power into joint operations.â€
The Iraqi Army currently has two newly-qualified instructor pilots, who along with their United States Forces-Iraq advisor counterparts, will soon begin the process of developing a cadre of instructor pilots to establish a self-sustaining program to support Iraqâ€™s Armed Scout Helicopter program.
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