Czech experts train Iraqi air forces flying L-159 combat planes

Iraq, August 4, 2016

A Czech air consulting team has been operating in Iraq since August 1 in order to continue with the training of the Iraqi air forces for the Czech-made L-159 combat aircraft, Defence Ministry spokesman Petr Medek told CTK Tuesday.

The 31-member Czech team includes pilots and technicians, but also logistics experts and military police. It will be deployed within the operation against the Islamic State (IS) organisation and stay in Iraq at least until the end of 2018.

The team members will continue training the Iraqi pilots who had until recently trained in the Czech Republic to fly the L-159s that the Czechs are selling to Iraq.

Iraq has signed a deal with Czech Republic in 2012 to buy 28 Czech L-159 fighter jets for $1 billion.

In June, the Iraqi pilots started attacking the IS positions.

Czech Chief-of-Staff Josef Becvar said a preparatory team arrived in Iraq at the end of June to prepare all that the consulting team needed for its work.

Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said the Czech air consulting team contributes to the enhancement of capabilities of the Iraqi army.

Stropnicky said previously the team will work at the Balad air base, situated about 80 km from Baghdad.