A & S Interview: Brig. Gen. Brooks Bash
A talk with the commander of the Air Force transition team in Iraq.
- By Paul Hoversten
- Air & Space magazine, September 2008
Capt. Mark Snoddy/USAF
(Page 3 of 4)
Bash: The first one arrived in December, and it’s a trainer. They will receive five more starting in June, which will be ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capable. They’ll have full-motion video, FLIR (forward-looking infrared), kind of a track-ball Predator (unmanned aerial vehicle) capability. The rest will be light transport aircraft that will be used for battlefield mobility and also to get the young pilots some more experience.
A&S: Does Iraq plan to put any weapons on either the King Airs or the Cessna 208s?
Bash: Not the current Cessna 208s. They have three ISR-capable 208s, which are similar to the King Airs. They have two additional 208s that they are using for flight training. Those will not be weaponized. However, starting in December we will receive the first armed Cessna Caravan with the capability to fire an AGM-114 Hellfire missile. That will go on three Cessna 208s delivered in December, and then on two more [delivered] early next year. That’ll give them their first true air-to-ground capability, with laser designator, similar to what our Predators do, but they’ll be manned.
A&S: Will the Iraqi air force ever get combat UAVs?
Bash: Right now, the Iraqi air force does not have any plans for that within their 2020 service plan. I believe the Iraqi army may be looking at some UAVs along the lines of what our Army has with the Hunters and all that, but I don’t have the details. But the air force is not. One of the challenges is you have to have a very mature command-and-control system, and they truly don’t have that right now. Their command-and-control system is just cell phones and a few radios, but that’s what we’re helping them build over the next couple years.
A&S: What’s the 2020 plan?
Bash: The idea is that in 2020 they would have an air force of 579 aircraft with different capabilities that would provide for the air sovereignty of Iraq. They really haven’t decided what types of aircraft those would be. But you’d have trainers, some aircraft for battlefield mobility, some special operations rotary-wing, armed reconnaissance rotary-wing, light and medium transports, ground-attack aircraft, some with ISR, some advanced jet trainers. And then eventually they’d move into the intercept, kind of air-to-air [combat] jet. But that would be way out in the out years.
A&S: How much danger is there that a future Iraqi government with a reconstituted air force could someday turn hostile and threaten U.S. allies in the region?