First Iraq FAC Strike

Iraqi forward air controllers directed Iraqi air force strike aircraft during a drill this week that saw the integrated team hit a simulated ground target, for the first time, without US air advisor participation. The air advisors stood aside, allowing the Iraqi controllers and Squadron 3 aircrew from Kirkuk Air Base to conduct the entire mission. Inserted by helicopter, the FACs coordinated with air operations, reconnaissance assets, and two Cessna AC-208 Caravans. One of the Caravans launched a single AGM-114 Hellfire missile during the drill at the Aziziyah training range, south of Baghdad. “This is a great day for the Iraqi air force,” Brig. Gen. Anthony Rock, air advisory mission director. He added, “[T]his capability is key to the Iraqi air force’s ability to provide internal security and external defense.” This exercise was the Iraqis’ third live Hellfire launch since November 2009. (Bagdad report by TSgt. Jason Lake)