The Iraqi Army Aviation Command (IAAC) is facing challenges in its fight against ISIS due to several factors, according to a US Department of Defense audit. The conflict in Ukraine is affecting the IAAC’s ability to access spare parts for their Russian-designed Mi-17 helicopters, as most parts are being directed towards Russian military efforts in Ukraine.
The Iraqi Air Force’s fixed-wing Russian platforms have not been impacted by parts availability, but have experienced shipping delays due to higher priority for Ukraine-bound shipments. The IAAC submitted requests for support from the Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF), but the coalition does not have an aviation support program. The report also showed that the IAAC lacks the ability to forecast required aircraft maintenance, leading to difficulties in acquiring repair parts and petroleum.
To address these challenges, the US is working with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense to convert the entire IAAC fleet to US-produced aircraft, making parts acquisition, maintenance, and training simpler. Iraq has submitted Foreign Military Sales requests for 15 new Bell 505 training helicopters, 15 new Bell 407M light attack helicopters, 4 Bell 412EPX and 16 Bell 412M medium-lift helicopters, and support packages from Eurocopter and Bell.
However, the report showed ongoing investigations into technical issues with Bell 407 helicopters, following a hard landing in November 2022. If a failure of the engine governor is confirmed as the cause, there may be a stand-down of the ISF’s Bell 407 helicopter fleet to inspect all engines.
In conclusion, the Iraqi Army Aviation Command is facing multiple challenges in its fight against ISIS, including difficulties with parts availability, forecasting aircraft maintenance, and technical issues with helicopters. The US is working with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense to modernize the IAAC fleet, but further investigations into technical issues may lead to a stand-down of the helicopter fleet.