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Five JetRangers Arrive for Iraqi Air Force Pilot Training - Five more to follow

7th December 2008 - 14:49 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


KIRKUK - Five Bell Jet Ranger 206B helicopters arrived here aboard a C-17 Globemaster III, Dec. 3.

The rotary aircraft were shipped over from the United States where they were converted from multiple sources, such as commercial use, for military application to be used as trainers for the Iraqi Air Force.

They will later be joined by five more Jet Rangers from Taji to help establish the Iraqi Air Force Squadron 2. The Bell Jet Rangers will be used as instrument training aircraft, while OH-58s will be used as primary trainers.

According to the security and training management organization (SATMO) action team chief, the arrival of the aircraft is another step forward for rebuilding the Iraqi Air Force and training their next generation rotary pilots.

"The significance of their arrival symbolizes not only a philosophical commitment we have to develop the Iraqi military, but a material one," said Chief Warrant Officer 4th Class Alton Campbell, SATMO action team chief. "It is something you can sink your teeth into. It sparks excitement in our instructors and in our ‘students to be.'"

Upon arrival the BJRs went through a government acceptance inspection. The Chief Warrant Officer, who has 5,000 hours in multiple rotary aircraft to include Bell Jet Rangers, said his team was right on the job to make sure the rotary aircraft completed the inspection and were ready to fly.

"We just had to take care of some little things like making sure the antennas are hooked up and the wire strike protection system is back on as well," Campbell said.

After the few parts were put back on, Army and contractor maintenance test pilots then ran through a checklist to make sure the avionics and navigation systems; control mechanisms and the engines were healthy. Then the final procedure was a 60-90 minute test flight.

The SATMO team is made up of experts on rotary aircraft and will advise the Iraqis in training and building their helicopter training program. SATMO is the counterpart to the 52d Expeditionary Flying Training Squadron here, who advises and trains the Iraqi Air Force on their fixed wing training program.

"The new BJRs will provide an expanded capability for Iraqi Air Force Squadron 2 to develop their rotary wing training program," said Lt. Col. Nathan Brauner, 52 EFTS commander. "This new capability will round out the mission of the Flying Training Wing to produce new pilots to fill the ranks of the Iraqi Air Force. Once the stand-up of Squadron 2 is complete, they will be capable of producing their own fixed wing and rotary wing pilots for the growing Iraqi Air Force."

(By Master Sgt. Andrew Leonhard, 506th Air Expeditionary Group)


The Shephard News Team


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