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BAGHDAD — The revamped Iraqi air force reached a milestone of sorts earlier this week when the first all-Iraqi aircrew flew a solo military mission since the invasion.

The crew, part of the 23rd Iraqi Squadron, flew a C-130E from Ali Air Base to New Al Muthana on Monday, U.S. military officials said Friday in a news release.

The nine crewmembers have been trained by U.S. Air Force personnel at Ali Air Base. The Iraqi crew landed the plane at New Al Muthana, performed a cargo loading with the engines running, then returned to Ali base, officials said.

“The flight marked a major milestone achievement by showing Iraq’s capability of providing its own military transport,” Air Force Capt. Jerry Ruiz, Forward Operations executive officer at New Al Muthana, was quoted as saying in the release.

New Al Muthana is the only Iraqi air base in the country and will be home to three C-130E aircraft by January, officials said.


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