The transformation of the Iraqi air force gathered pace last month as the fledgling service accepted three surplus Lockheed Martin C-130Etransports from the US government during a ceremony at Baghdad International airport.

Attended by prime minister Iyad Allawi, the acceptance came ahead of the completion of a training course in Jordan for around 65 Iraqi air force personnel, including four flightcrews. The USAir Force is also supporting this process by providing simulator time.

Iraqi pilots have yet to fly the C-130, but once cleared for service the aircraft will enter use with the Iraqi air force's re-activated 23 Sqn at Baghdad's Muthenna airbase.

In a further development in the regeneration of the Iraqi armed forces, the country's formative army is set to gain six Mil Mi-24 combat helicopters from Poland following Warsaw's completion of a peacekeeping commitment in the country. The aircraft, which began operations in Iraq late last month, are due to be retired in early 2006, although an upgrade programme could extend their use a further five to seven years.

Source: Flight International