ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A training academy for the Iraqi air force will be established by 2019, according to a deal announced by the US Department of Defense last week.
Spartan Air Academy, of Addison, Texas, was awarded a contract by the US Army to begin the construction of an air training academy for the Iraqi air force, United Press International (UPI) reported.
The deal was announced on Friday by the Department of Defense and is valued at USD 45 million “under a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.”
Under the agreement, Spartan Air Academy will be responsible for establishing a flight training school at the Balad Air Base, located about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Baghdad.
The Defense Department said the academy is expected to open in February 2019.
The Pentagon will provide Spartan Air Academy with over USD 9.9 million “from foreign military sales funds,” according to UPI.
The agreement with Spartan is one of a few contracts Washington has awarded for the development and training of Iraqi forces.
In January, the US Air Force granted Sallyport Global Holdings a USD 400 million agreement for base operations and security for Iraq’s F-16 fighter jet program.
The Defense Department’s announcement comes at a time when Iranian-backed Shia militias within the Iraqi army have repeatedly called for a complete withdrawal of American troops from the country.
On Sunday, the leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, an Iranian-backed militia under the umbrella of the Hashd al-Shaabi, threatened US soldiers who are currently training and supporting Iraqi military forces.
“America, whether you take it as a warning or consider it a threat, we are a people who do not accept the presence of your troops on our soil,” Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader Qais al-Khazali said.
Khazali also said that the Iraqi Air Force had F-16 fighter jets, so they should not rely on US warplanes.