Iraqi Helos Get Defensive

Air Force advisors aided Iraq’s Army Aviation Command in procuring defensive armament for the command’s Mi-17 helicopters that are based at Taji Airfield. Since helicopters cannot fly outside secure zones unprotected, the delivery of 30 US-built M240 machine guns from the US Army earlier this month will enable Taji’s 30 Mi-17s to support combat and security operations. Airmen with the 721st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron at Taji developed a prototype weapons mounting for retrofit on the Russian-built helicopters. Contractors subsequently certified the mounting for use. Since then, “We’ve been getting the Iraqis trained on M240 maintenance, inspections, and loading them onto aircraft,” said TSgt. Brian Felix, 721st AEAS armament system expert. He added, “Eventually all the [Mi-17s] here will have M240s installed on them.” (Camp Taji report by SSgt. Jason Lake)