One of the more unusual aircraft to have operated from Edwards AFB in California during recent times took to the skies on 25 April after a two-month rebuild process conducted by US Air Force maintainers.

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All pictures USAF / Jet Fabara

Tech Sgt Rick Fujimoto makes an adjustment on the engine of an Iraqi Comp Air 7SLX at Edwards Air Force Base, California on 17 April. Sgt Fujimoto is with the 653rd Combat Logistics Support Sqn at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia and one of four crew chiefs on the project. 

The Comp Air 7SLX observation aircraft was manufactured as a kitplane in Merritt Island, Florida and sold to the United Arab Emirates before being donated to the reformed Iraqi air force in late 2004, along with another five examples. Operations of the fleet were halted following the deaths of four USAF personnel and one Iraqi in a May 2005 crash, with the remaining five aircraft having been grounded ever since.

The recent test success followed an exhaustive process to return the Comp Air to factory condition, with the platform having received numerous uncertified modifications since its delivery to Iraq, including changes to its fuel tank location, wiring, nose landing gear and flight controls.

The work will “improve the aircraft flying qualities and overall maintenance condition”, says the USAF, which will send a team of maintainers to Kirkuk airbase late this month to return the remainder of Iraq's Comp Air fleet to flightworthy status.

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Comp Air landing W445

External link:
The US Air Force has released a video of the Iraqi air force Comp Air 7SLX observation aircraft being restored to flying condition. to view the video, click here.

Source: Flight International