The new Mi-28UB operational training attack helicopter (Image © Russian Helicopters)

Iraq is building up serious airborne muscle

The Mil Mi-28 Night Hunter, or ‘Havoc’. (Image © Russian Helicopters)

Thirteen Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunters (NATO-name Havoc) attack helicopters have been delivered to Iraq so far, Iraqi and Russian media reported this weekend. In 2012, a contract for 36 Mi-28NE Havocs and other military hardware was signed between Iraq and Russia, worth 4.2 billion USD

Iraq will use the attack helicopters for counter-terrorism operation. On Saturday 4 January, it was already reported that Iraq is attacking apparent terrorists in the west of the country, using Cessna/ATK AC-208B Combat Caravans. Last November, it was reported that Iraq started receiving the first four Mi-35M Hind-Es. Last autumn, the Iraqi pilots and technicians finalized their training in Russia.

Meanwhile, Iraqi pilots are also training in the US to fly the Lockheed Martin F-16 block 52 Fighting Falcon.  The country is expecting delivery of the first of 36 F-16s it ordered in the US. The first 4.3 billion USD-contract for this order was signed in December 2011, and first deliveries are expected by September 2014. Procedures for forming the first squadron started roughly four months ago at Balad airbase in northern Baghdad.

Only last month, the Iraqi Air Force ordered 24 KAI T-50 supersonic advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft on 12 December 2013. Iraq will use the Korea Aerospace Industries machines mainly as lead-in trainer for their 36 new F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters. The aircraft are designated T-50IQ

All in all, Iraq is building some serious airborne muscle.

© 2014 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest