By Spc. Amie McMillan, 10th Public Affairs Operations CenterDecember 28, 2010
CAMP TAJI, Iraq -- The recent arrival of three Bell T-407 training helicopters at Camp Taji, Iraq, will help to train qualified Iraqi Army pilots to operate and maintain the helicopters, as well as rapidly accelerate the fielding and utilization of Iraqi 407 Armed Scout Helicopters which are scheduled to be fielded here by the end of 2011.
"To receive the aircraft is something like a dream that became a reality," said Lt. Col. Abbas, a commander and instructor pilot with 21st Squadron, Iraqi Army Aviation Command.
"The arrival of these new, high-technology helicopters is a result of a great deal of hard work by the team comprised of both Iraqi and U.S. airmen," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Hanson, director of Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force, and commander of the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing.
The aircraft were a large part of the package, which included initial spares, ground support equipment and tools, and aircraft maintenance through contractor logistics support.
The delivery of the T-407 aircraft is critical to building a modern, dependable capability in the Iraqi Army Aviation command, Hanson said.
By training with qualified instructor pilots, a large number of Iraqi pilots will be ready to operate and maintain the IA-407.
"I'd love to see their military have a great capability with these Armed Scout Helicopters so they can establish and maintain stability in their country, which is the overall intent," said Chief Warrant Officer Jason Glenn, a Redstone Test Center, Ala., experimental test pilot.
The armed aircraft will enhance the capability of Iraqi forces to see what is occurring on the ground and increase their ability to support counter-terrorism activities by sending the information through Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance technology (ISR) to Iraqi Army ground forces.
"For the Iraqis to have an ISR capability with cutting-edge technology in avionics, it gives them the ability to protect themselves, the people of Iraq and ensure they provide a very formidable counter-terrorism capability," said Air Force Maj. Scott Fitzner, a foreign military sales case manager with United States Forces - Iraq.
"It's our duty to protect and help Iraqi people feel most safe in their homes and towns, and to keep our people from the harm and pain they've been seeing for many years," Abbas said.
"With these aircraft, plus the skilled pilots and maintenance technicians being developed, these T-407s will greatly enhance Iraqi Security Forces and their ability to protect and defend the people of this nation," Hanson said.
The United States remains committed to working with Iraq as a strategic partner in an effort to ensure peace and security for their country.
"I want to thank all of our friends from the United States because they are always committed to supporting Iraq's journey in democracy and helping us keep security and fight terrorism," said Iraqi Army Gen. Babakir, commander of Iraq's armed forces and Ministry of Defense chief of staff.
"The U.S. is looking to establish a long-term partnership with Iraq and this is an important stepping stone to making that happen. The Iraqis are doing extremely well at taking this new technology and learning, training and equipping themselves, as well as putting it into practice," Fitzner added.