With the Iraqi Air Force currently training with US forces in Arizona, CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan traveled to Tucson for a report that aired on “CBS This Morning.”
The DC-based foreign policy reporter sat down with several individuals involved in the program, including Iraqi fighter pilot, Mohammed Hama. “Meet the next top gun of the Iraqi Air Force,” Brennan began the segment, referring to Hama.
Head of his class at one of the US’s premier schools for fighter pilots, run by the Air National Guard in Tucson, Hama is learning how to fly F-16s — a $60 million, American-made fighter jet with speeds over 1,500 miles per hour. “Being up there is, I mean, I can’t describe it to you. You’ve got to be up there so you can feel the rush,” Captain Hama told Brennan.
The Iraqi military’s inability to control its own airspace, due to ISIS incursions, has forced their pilots, and the 36 jets just purchased by the Iraqi government for $6.5B, to train at the based in Tucson. Brennan asked Lieutenant Colonel Julian Pacheco of the US Air Force, whether he felt as if they were building the Iraqi Air Force from the ground up, “We certainly are,” Pacheco replied. “Currently, they don’t have a great tactical presence in Iraq, and this is going to be a great way for them to join the fight to defend their nation.”
Watch the clip below. Courtesy of “CBS This Morning.”