Prague/Brussels, Feb 11 (CTK) – The Czech Republic may send instructors to Iraq to train the crews of the Czech-made L-159 light combat planes within its efforts to help fight terrorism, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) told journalists in Brussels on Thursday.
Stropnicky said he will submit the proposal to the Czech government.
He said he discussed the plan with his U.S. counterpart Ashton Carter at a meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting showed that the U.S. has intensified its efforts in fighting Islamic State, and it wants to focus on helping the Iraqi miliary, Stropnicky said.
He said Carter emphasised the importance of the training of Iraqi armed forces.
“In this connection, we could tell him that we are preparing a proposal…to send about 30 people to Baghdad. Out of them, four would be flight instructors, the rest would be technicians and other staff,” Stropnicky said.
The instructors would continue the training of the Iraqi pilots who recently trained the operation of L-159s in the Czech Republic.
Prague and Baghdad previously agreed on the sale of the Czech redundant L-159s to the Iraqi defence, but the transfer of the planes has been blocked by the lacking approval from Britain over one of the plane’s construction parts.
Stropnicky said he believes the problem would be unblocked soon.
He said the USA appreciated the Czech proposal.
The Czech government made a decision on the sale of the redundant L-159 aircraft last year. Iraq has already taken over the first two planes. It will receive another three in the first half of the year.
Iraq will receive a total of 15 aircraft that the Czech military does not need through the Czech Aero Vodochody firm.
The Czech Republic previously provided ammunition and weapons for Iraq in the struggle against Islamic radicals. The Defence Ministry will send more than 6500 new as well as used assault rifles and more than seven million rounds to the Iraqi and Kurdish armed forces.
In the past months, the Czech Republic gave Iraq and Kurdistan millions of gun rounds, assault rifles, 5000 hand grenades and 5000 RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades.