MARIETTA, Ga. --- The Iraqi Air Force celebrated an important milestone when they received a third C-130J aircraft at a rollout ceremony held at Lockheed Martin's factory here Dec. 12, 2012.
The ceremony is a culmination of many activities to reinforce a long-term partnership between the United States and Iraq and highlights Iraq's commitment to enhance its military transportation capabilities.
The ceremony was attended by Ms. Heidi Grant, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs and representatives from Lockheed-Martin, the U.S. Air Force and the IqAF commander, Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Hamad Amen Ahmed.
Sixteen recently graduated U.S. trained C-130J Iraqi maintainers, seven pilots, and one loadmaster will support the three planes, explained Grant in a speech.
"These crewmembers will form the backbone of this new capability, serve as leaders in training new personnel and will positively shape the future of the Iraqi Air Force," said Grant.
The program's goal is for Iraq to train 18 pilots, 18 loadmasters, and a minimum of 50 maintainers over a period of three years, according to Grant. She anticipates these numbers will grow as the U.S. - Iraqi partnership matures.
The C-130J uses state-of-the-art technology, allowing it to fly farther, climb faster, and take off and land in a shorter distances than earlier versions of the aircraft. It also includes an improved fuel system, making it environmentally friendly as well.
Acquisition of new transport aircraft will provide Iraq with the ability to operate seamlessly with U.S., NATO and coalition forces engaged in a range of operations and missions.
The C-130J purchase agreement with the IqAF provides a total of six C-130J aircraft, support equipment and training. Three were delivered by Dec. 12 and three more will be delivered in 2013.