VSE, Westar to Help Train Iraqi Pilots
“Bird Dogs for the Iraqi Air Force” discussed orders for the IqAF, and the successful history of Cessna’s “bird dog” aircraft in battlefield surveillance and support roles. While the Cessna 172s will be used for flight training, the incoming Cessna Grand Caravan 208B aircraft are equipped with the same cheap surveillance and targeting turrets used on Predator UAVs. The Cessna 172s may also graduate to this role at some point, and there are indications that the Grand Caravans may be armed with light weapons as a surveillance/ light counterinsurgency counterpart to Iraq’s pending COIN aircraft selection.
The Iraqi Air Force is a pale shadow of its former self; in many ways, it is starting over from zero. A small handful of C-130E transports, a couple squadrons of helicopters, and an assortment of light propeller planes are all the IqAF possesses. They’ll need more than that in order to protect Iraq’s basic sovereignty, and training efforts with the USAF are underway. Now, so is a contract to support that effort…
The US CECOM (Communications Electronic Command) has awarded a e-year, $62 million CECOM Rapid Response Task Order to VSE Corporation of Arlington, VA and QinetiQ North America subsidiary Westar Aerospace & Defense Group, Inc., on behalf of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Management Organization.
The two firms will support the Coalition Air Force Transition Team’s mission to establish a Flight Training School for the new Iraqi Air Force. The goal of the program, which began Nov 9/07, is to train 50 students per year in helicopters and 50 students per year in fixed-wing aircraft, all to to U.S. Army/U.S. Air Force standards.
The team will be led by Westar Flight Commander Guy Rogers, a retired Army Colonel with more than 30 years of aviation management and training experience. Even so, VSE is the prime contractor. Westar is the primary subcontractor, and will serve as the team’s lead performer, training selected members of the Iraqi Armed Forces on both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.
Fixed-wing training will include classroom academic instruction and flight simulator training, as well as potential undergraduate-level flight training in Cessna aircraft. Rotary-wing training will include classroom academic instruction, flight simulator training, and flight training in Jet Ranger, Huey II and Mi-17 (Russian) helicopters. Westar release.