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All-Iraqi Aircrew Goes Solo

American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Iraq, Dec. 2, 2005 – An all Iraqi aircrew flew its first solo mission aboard a C-130E from Ali Air Base, near Nasariyah in southeast Iraq, to New Al Muthana here Nov. 28, officials reported today.

The nine aircrew members are part the 23rd Iraqi Squadron, which has been receiving training at Ali Air Base. "The flight marked a major milestone achievement by showing Iraq's capability of providing its own military transport," said Air Force Capt. Jerry Ruiz, forward operations executive officer at New Al Muthana Air Base.

The aircrew performed what's called an engine running on-load, an expedient method of loading the aircraft for immediate takeoff, before its return to Ali, officials noted.

New Al Muthana, the only Iraqi air base in the country, will be home to three C-130E aircraft. The Iraqi squadron will move to its new home here in January.

(Based on a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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