U.S. Air War Soars in Post-Combat Iraq | Danger Room | Wired.com
Combat operations are officially over in Iraq. But don’t tell the U.S. Air Force, which is still flying tens of thousands of missions over Iraq.
American pilots have been continuously operating in the Iraqi skies since the 1990 Gulf War. And they’re likely to fly there for years to come; while Iraqi ground troops have steadily taken a bigger and bigger role in the country’s security, its air force is still lagging far behind. As of this spring, the active fleet consisted of only 36 transport, 19 surveillance, and three attack planes. The Iraqi Air Force academy opened its doors just last week. “Let us be frank, we don’t have the combat or jet fighters or intercepting planes or air defense systems,” Iraqi Air Force commander Staff Lt. Gen. Anwer Hamad Amen Ahmed told the AP in April. “We are still far from an air force’s full potential. We will need the U.S. long after 2011.”