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Czechs to train Iraqi military pilots, advise on tactics

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Prague, April 9 (CTK) – The Czech military team which Prague plans to send to Iraq is to help train Iraqi pilots of the Czech-made L-159 combat planes and advise the Iraqi on the servicing of L-159s, their use in combat and also on tactics, Petr Tomanek, from the Czech air force command, has told CTK.
The sending of about 30 soldiers to Iraq has already been approved by the Czech government.
It is to be discussed by parliament now.
The military expects the soldiers to leave for Iraq in early June. Apart from several instructors and technicians, the team will include a security unit.
“We pay big attention to the team’s security in order to ensure the maximum possible safety of the people,” Tomanek said.
The Czech military is negotiating with the U.S. military about the integration of the Czech advisory team in the existing international aviation consulting group, Tomanek said.
Prague has sold its redundant L-159s to Iraq, which wants to use them in fighting Islamic State.
Several Iraqi pilots already underwent training on L-159s in the Czech Republic in recent months.
The planes’ producer Aero Vodochody, who sold them to Baghdad for the Czech state, has sent civilian employees to Iraq whose task is to ensure the servicing of the L-159s. However, their duties do not include the ensuring of a smooth operation of the planes.
The Czech military experts are to acquaint their Iraqi counterparts with the system of spare parts purchases, the maintenance of the planes and also tactics and piloting skills.
During the mission, the Czech military wants to use its experience from Afghanistan, Tomanek said, adding that a combination of numerous tasks must be fulfilled for the planes to operate successfully.
The Czech team should operate in Iraq until the end of 2018, according to the government’s proposal.

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