Donald Trump’s executive order to ban immigrants from seven, largely muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa, casts uncertainty of Iraqi Air Force F-16 training in Tucson in the US. According to various sources, US and Iraqi diplomats are working on ways to exempt Iraqi student pilots from the ban.
The Iraqi Air Force is in the process of receiving 36 Lockheed Martin F-16 jets purchased in 2011. Pilot training on these advanced jets is done in Tucson, Arizona, where the first Iraqi aircraft arrived over two years ago. Since then, pilots from Iraq stayed in Tucson to learn to fly the F-16.
According to critics, the ban that was announced on Friday has all the marks of an executive order that was not thought out properly. It took the US State Departement and the Pentagon by surprise.
According to officials, an agreement on continued Iraqi F-16 training seems likely. US servicemen and Iraqi personnel have been working together closely for the last few year, not in the least to defeat so-called Islamic State forces in Iraq.
Iraq is gaining an increasingly potent F-16 force at Balad airbase near Baghdad. The number of F-16s jets available for the fighter against so-called Islamic State (IS) has grown to ten after this week’s delivery of four more jets.
The Iraqi Air Force has 36 F-16s on order from Lockheed Martin. A number of aircraft remains stationed in the US for pilot training in Tucson, Arizona, while most of the jets will head to Iraq to join the Iraq Air Force’s 9 squadron at Balad. From there, the Iraqi F-16 have already been used in battling IS.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Air Force also gains more and more Aero Vodochody L-159 trainer and light attack jets from the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the first Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle should soon also find its way to Iraq.
NATO’s E-3A Component at Geilenkirchen airbase in Germany retired its first Boeing E-3A Sentry this week, a spokesperon confirmed on 15 May. The aircraft, registered LX-N90449, was taken on its final mission on Wednesday 13 May and welcomed with a water salute from the fire brigade as it returned to Geilenkirchen for the last time. Read here for on inside report from Geilenkirchen.
The retired aircraft served NATO for well over 30 years, being delivered in the early 80s. Over the next few weeks, sensitive and re-usable equipment is taken out, after which the aircraft will be flown to desert storage in Tucson, Arizona, on 23 June. There, the equipment that was needed for the ferry flight, is also taken out of LX-N90449. The Sentry will then rest among hundreds and hundreds of other retired military aircraft at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, better known as AMARG.
The retirement leaves 16 E-3As in operation at Geilenkirchen. Out of those, 14 are to be updated with a part-glass cockpit. The first aircraft is currently undergoing tests in the US, with the first E-3A Component pilot having flown the aircraft on 29 April. The entire modification program is set to be done in 2018.
The first Iraqi Air Force force are set to fly to Iraq next July, the Iraqi Ministry stated earlier this week. The aircraft are expected to be used in the fight against Islamic State (IS) forces very soon afterwards.
The aircraft are they first of 36 F-16s ordered to actually arrive in Iraq. Since early 2015, Iraqi pilots are being trained in the US by the Arizona Air National Guard in Tucson, with Iraqi aircraft delivered there also.
The first F-16s were scheduled to arrive in Iraq last year already, but the US seemed to develop cold feet following the advance of IS in 2014. Balad Airbase, future home of the F-16s, was even under threat of being overrun. For safety, the first aircraft were kept in the US and flown to Tucson for training.
Following the Seattle Museum of Flight, the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, is the second aviation museum to put a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on display. The museum announced it will receive ZA002, the second Boeing 787-8 to be produced, from Boeing on Friday 27 March.
The Dreamliner will arrive at nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and then be towed to the Pima Air & Space Museum. A formal induction ceremony and opening of public static display will be announced at a later date.
“This is an extremely exciting and monumental time for the museum, the Tucson community and Arizona in general,” said Scott Marchand, Executive Director of the Pima Air & Space Museum. “We are honored to be selected by The Boeing Company to be the custodian of such a significant historic next generation aircraft and to be able to display it to the public from the USA and from around the world.”
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an all-new family of midsize airplanes that deliver new efficiencies, exceptional environmental performance and passenger pleasing features. Advances in engines, aerodynamics, airplane systems and materials, including airframe made mostly of carbon-fiber composites, make the 787 family 20 to 30 percent more fuel efficient than the airplanes it replaces, with an equivalent reduction in emissions.
“Boeing is proud of our long-standing relationship with the Pima Air & Space Museum, and donating the second 787 Dreamliner begins another chapter in our partnership,” said Boeing Vice President of Attack Helicopter Programs and Senior Mesa Site Executive, Kim Smith. “We’re thrilled to share this 787 with students, aviation enthusiasts and visitors from Arizona and around the world.”
Dreamliner ZA002 flew for the first time on December 22, 2009, joining what would become a six-airplane flight test and certification program for the 787- 8. The primary focus of ZA002 was testing systems performance.
The Museum of Flight in Seattle on 8 November 2014 became the first museum in the world to add a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to its collection. In that case, it was ZA003, the third Dreamliner built.