CRANSTON, R.I. - A select crew of Rhode Island Air National Guard (RIANG) members will proudly participate in a historic acceptance ceremony of Iraqi Air Force (IAF) C-130J transport aircraft before flying them to Iraq for a delivery ceremony.
The acceptance ceremony, to be held today at Lockheed-Martin's Marietta, Ga., facility, will represent the delivery of the first three aircraft purchased by the Iraqi Air Force through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
The C-130J Acquisition Program provides a total of six aircraft including spare parts, support equipment and aircrew and maintenance training all paid for by the government of Iraq, totaling $681.4 million. The FMS program is a key part of the Office of Security Assistance-Iraq's (OSC-I) Strategic Framework Agreement.
The 143rd Airlift Wing (AW), RIANG, has been instrumental in the training and development of IAF pilots and maintenance crews at its Quonset Air National Guard Base (ANGB) location in North Kingstown. IAF members have been training and honing their skills under the direction of the 143rd AW Airmen since June.
The 143rd AW is the United States Air Force's (USAF) first and longest serving C-130J unit, having fielded the aircraft in 2001. The members of the 143rd AW have the distinction of being the USAF's first unit to fly the C-130J in combat.
The USAF selected the 143rd AW to deliver the new IAF aircraft to Iraq based upon its extensive experience with the USAF's newest version of the venerable C-130.
"The selection of our Rhode Island Airmen to facilitate this historically significant delivery of key air mobility aircraft is further validation of the international impact the men and women of the 143rd Airlift Wing continue to have," said Maj. Gen. Kevin McBride, the adjutant general of Rhode Island, and commanding general of the Rhode Island National Guard.