BAGHDAD -- Three Iraq Army Aviation Directorate instructor pilots completed the flying portion of Mi-17 weapons re-qualification training Oct. 27.

Assisted by representatives of United States Forces-Iraq's Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force, the instructor pilots were required to plan the mission and then execute firing operations for 80mm rockets at targets.

The MI-17 can be armed with an array of rockets, missiles and guns. The Russian-designed helicopter can be used for a multitude of missions such as: resupply, troop transport, air assault of enemy forces, and search and rescue.

"It is a multi-mission helicopter," said Iraqi Army Brig. Gen. Kalaf Mohammad Frak, commander of Taji Air Base. "We can use the Mi-17s to fight terrorism, to conduct night missions and for medical evacuations."

The successful completion of this exercise signifies that the Iraqi Army Aviation Directorate is capable of safely training its personnel to execute live-fire events with its Mi-17 fleet, said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott M. Hanson, director ITAM-Air Force.

Iraqi weapons handlers safely transported and installed the rockets on the two mission-certified Mi-17 helicopters, and implemented usual safety measures to ensure the training event's success.

"They're working toward taking over security of the country," said Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Curtin, commander of the 721st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron and senior Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force advisor to the Taji Air Base commander. "This training is a step forward and will help them take over air missions.

The Iraqi Army Aviation Directorate leadership and aircrew coordinated the mission with the approval of the Iraqi Army, and the instructor pilots successfully fired 36 of 40 rockets. The remaining rockets were properly secured and safely returned to the IA Aviation Directorate's home base in Taji.

"Our advisors will continue to monitor this training and help determine steps for the Iraqi Army Aviation Directorate to transition to real-world employment of these weapons in support of Iraqi Army and other Iraqi Security Forces," Hanson said.

Page last updated Sat November 6th, 2010 at 10:00