2. New Iraqi Air Force under US Wing

General Richard Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, got a firsthand look at the vanguard units of the new Iraqi Air Force last week, when he landed at Tallil air force base, about 300 km (180 miles) southeast of Baghdad. Sited on sandy desert, the base is capable of supporting at least two fighter squadrons and support units

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report that Iraqi Air Force units have begun operating out of two other bases as well, Habaniyah, 80 km (50 miles) west of Baghdad and Al Taji, 30 km (18 miles) east of the Iraqi capital.

Iraqi pilots are now flying a squadron of C130 cargo planes used to ferry troops, equipment and casualties, a squadron of VH-1 helicopters and another of light reconnaissance aircraft.

Reconnaissance planes and their pilots are to be deployed at air bases and airstrips in battle zones or along main roads, where they will report on guerrilla movements or attacks. Other pilots and their light aircraft will be stationed at airstrips inside US and British bases in the north, near Kirkuk, and in the south, outside Basra. Those reconnaissance planes will patrol along the Iraqi-Iranian border in a bid to block extremist Muslim reinforcements, including al Qaeda fighters, from pouring into combat zones in eastern and central Iraq.

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