BAGHDAD — The Iraq Air Force is steadily intensifying operations in 2008, U.S. officials said.There are some 200 junior flyboys training at Taji Air Base where over 300 have already graduated. This year alone, the Iraqi Air Force has graduated 116 Warrant Officers and 50 Commissioned Officers who will form the base upon which the modern IqAF will be built.
The officials said the air force, with 100 pilots, has conducted more than 5,000 sorties this year. They said the amount marked an 80 percent increase over 2007, when the air force flew 7,663 sorties.
Officials said the air force played a major role in the Iraqi military and police operation in Basra in late March. They said the air force, with eight rotary and fixed-wing flying units, also conducted reconnaissance and other missions during operations in Mosul and Baghdad's Sadr City in May.
The most active Iraq Air Force unit has been that of the CH-2000 light reconnaissance aircraft. The air force unit in Basra conducted more than 518 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and 700 training sorties.
"This year, they have taken the reins in operations," [the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group commander Col. David] Penny said. "They're working very hard, and their efforts are working to dissolve terrorist cells in Iraq."
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