Balad Air Base is not strange to F-16 operations. Here Capt. David Way of the South Carolina Air National Guard's 157th Fighter Squadron is taxiing away for an alert mission from the HAS at Balad on 24 June 2010. (Image © Tech. Sgt. Caycee Cook / USAF)

Iraqi AF F-16s at Balad in September 2014

Balad Airbase is no stranger to F-16 operations. Here Capt. David Way of the South Carolina Air National Guard's 157th Fighter Squadron is taxiing away for an alert mission from the HAS at Balad on 24 June 2010. (Image © Tech. Sgt. Caycee Cook / USAF)
Balad Airbase is no stranger to F-16 operations. Here Capt. David Way of the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 157th Fighter Squadron is taxiing away for an alert mission from the HAS at Balad on 24 June 2010. (Image © Tech. Sgt. Caycee Cook / USAF)

It looks like the Iraqi Air Force will commence operations with its new Lockheed Martin F-16IQ Block 52 Fighting Falcons from Balad Airbase in September 2014, as planned.

The US Department of Defence has just given Sallyport Global Services a 215 million US dollar contract (fixed-price) to renovate and reconstruct key facilities at the field 50 miles (80 km) north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Iraq ordered 36 F-16 IQ Block 52s, in two batches of 18 aircraft. Although the US doesn’t want them to fly sophisticated Joint Direct Attack Munitions, the Vipers will put the Iraqi Air Force back with the grown ups – to form a balanced force in a region that calls for well-weighted power between Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq.

The work at Balad is planned to last until June 2015, half a year before the final pair of Iraqi F-16s is planned to be delivered. The delivery schedule calls for two F-16s every month, with the first arriving in September 2014.

Balad has had only one functional runway the last couple of years, with a second mainly in use as chopper base. The base has four areas with hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) – northwest, northeast, southwest, southeast – and scores of other facilities on both the northern and southern sides of the two original runways. The field has been used extensively by US forces during their stay after their invasion of Iraq in 2003.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with contract info provided by the US DoD

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