Monday, 5 December 2016

First group of Iraqi pilots ends training in Aero Vodochody

ČTK |
10 February 2016

Odolena Voda, Central Bohemia, Feb 9 (CTK) - The first group of Iraqi pilots completed training in the Czech firm Aero Vodochody, where they were flying the L-159 aircraft that the Iraqi military buys from the firm, its director Ladislav Simek told CTK on Tuesday.

Last year, the Iraq military took over the first two planes, another three should be available in the first half of this year, Simek said.

Iraq will gain a total of 15 aircraft that the Czech military does not need and that were bought from Aero by the Defence Ministry in the past.

The supply of more planes was blocked by Britain until recently. It had problem with that the British radar early warning system, with which the planes are fitted, might fall in the hands of terrorists in fighting Islamic State in Iraq.

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised his government's help in dealing with the frozen sales during his visit to the Czech Republic in January.

According to Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky, Cameron has already done something in this connection.

Stropnicky said British pilots would not be threatened even if the technology fell in the enemy's hands.

He said on Tuesday the Czech Republic will continue cooperating with the Iraqi military and he did not rule out that support for Iraq may also have other forms.

General Faris Hasan Falah, deputy commander of the Iraqi air force, told CTK that another group of Iraqi pilots will soon start training at Aero Vodochody.

The first group had four members. Falah did not say how strong the second group will be. The training of the ground personnel is part of the contract.

Aero will make 12 aircraft operable for the Iraqi military. It will equip them and train their pilots and the service personnel.

Two other planes will be used for the reconstruction of two aircraft into two-seaters, one will be used for spare parts.

The firm has not said how much Iraq will pay it for the transaction. Iraq repays the sum gradually.

Aero Vodochody paid 51 billion crowns for 72 L-159 combat planes in the past. It now only uses 24 of them.

The military will use the money gained through the sales of redundant planes for the reconstruction of three L-159 aircraft out of the grounded planes from single- to two-seaters.

The military also sells redundant aircraft to the U.S. Draken International firm. Twenty-one planes will be used in training U.S. pilots. The firm took over the first planes last autumn.

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