Iraqi Air Force F-16 jet fighters have blasted across the sky over the Iraqi Desert at the Besmaya Range Complex west of Baghdad to engage ground targets as part of the Iraqi Forward Air Controller Course (IFAC) run by Task Group Taji.
Commanding Officer of the Training Task Unit Lieutenant Colonel Giles Cornelia said the IFAC course is a significant combat enabler for the Iraqi Security Forces.
"This course provides the Iraqi Army with capable trained observers that can apply lethal aerial fires from Iraqi aircraft against ground targets," LTCOL Cornelia said.
"This capability significantly increases the Iraqi Security Force’s ability to support ground manoeuvre elements across the battle-space.
"This training is conducted by a superb team of Australian, New Zealand and United States trainers – the success of this course in challenging conditions is a testament to their hard work and expertise."
During the course, students are taught to pass on target information to attack aircraft, de-conflict the airspace and co-ordinate the attack in support of ground forces.
The course has seen the introduction of highly sophisticated simulators and targeting methods that have tested the student’s ability to apply joint fires safely and with accuracy.
Commander of Task Group Taji Colonel Steve D’arcy said the course is the most difficult and challenging course provided by the Task Group.
"Students on the course are hand-picked from across the Iraqi Army and are very keen to engage with the Australian and New Zealand instructors," he said.
"This course represents the first step in the growth of a capability that will be crucial to the long-term security of Iraq."
Upon completion of the course, newly qualified observers will return to operational service with their units across the Iraqi Army as they continue to defeat the remnants of Daesh.