As the U.S. and Iran continue to launch airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State group targets, Iraqi pilots learning how to fly F-16s in the U.S. are years away from completing their training.
The first two of 24 Iraqi pilots in the training pipeline could graduate as instructor pilots in fiscal 2017, but their training is based on experience and proficiency, not set timelines, said 1st Lt Jose Davis, a spokesman for Air Education and Training Command.
The instructor pilot training itself is expected to take another three to four months, but that is a general estimate of how long it will take for them to complete the required flight hours, Davis said.
Of the other Iraqi pilots: 12 have completed initial F-16 qualification training; four are waiting for initial F-16 training; and six are attending the Defense Language Institute so they can take initial pilot training, he said.
Iraq has purchased 36 F-16s, but the Iraqi pilots will train on the planes in Arizona until the security situation in Iraq improves to the point that the fighters can be delivered there, Davis said.