By SGT Eunice Alicea Valentin (USF-I, DCG A&T PAO)November 19, 2010
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi Air Force successfully conducted its second-ever Hellfire rocket launch from an Iraqi Air Force AC-208 Cessna Caravan at the Aziziyah Training Range Nov. 8.
The success of this mission marks a significant milestone for United States Forces-Iraq's work to assist in increasing Iraqi capabilities by developing a strong Iraqi Air Force.
The mission was conducted solely by Iraqi Air Force personnel who flew a classic two-ship formation, led by the Hellfire-equipped aircraft. The missile was launched at an altitude of more than 5,000 feet, and three miles from their ground target. Iraqi Air Force leaders confirmed a direct hit - the center of three vehicles on the Aziziyah training range, south of Baghdad.
"Today's successful precision-guided weapon exercise marks another advancement in Iraqi air power," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Hanson, director of the Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force. "The Iraqi Air Force incorporated a complex mix of targets, overhead surveillance, plus command and control for weapons release from their air operations center."
Since the Iraqi Air Force completed their first-ever Hellfire launch in November 2009 -also achieving a direct target hit - Airmen with Iraqi Squadron 3 from Kirkuk Air Base, have trained continuously for the mission. Training focused on mastering the weapons load, target attack and airmanship skills necessary to maintain proficiency.
"The entire event from planning to aircraft maintenance, and weapons loading to destroying the target with a single Hellfire missile, reflects a tremendous level of professionalism demonstrated by [Iraq's] Airmen," Hanson said.