Iraqi F-16s Going to Tucson

The Defense Department will deliver the Iraqi air force’s first batch of new-build F-16s to Tucson, Ariz., where Iraqi pilots will train in them, according to a release. The jets were originally slated for delivery to Balad Air Base in Iraq, but those plans changed due to the security situation in Iraq, with ISIS terrorist forces threatening Balad, forcing contractors who were part of the planned transfer process to evacuate the installation, states the Nov. 10 release. Iraqi pilots are already in a training pipeline at Tucson International Airport. Defense Department Spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren said the first three Iraqi F-16s are slated to arrive in Tucson in December. After that, one aircraft is scheduled to arrive per month through May 2015, for a total of eight, he said. “We expect the Iraqi pilots will begin flying their own aircraft for continuation training beginning in January,” said Warren. “All maintenance for the F-16s will be provided by [contractor] logistic support,” he said.