The US’s Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts is helping the Iraqi Air Force rebuild its military air traffic control capabilities through joint foreign military sales (FMS) run by the 853rd Electronic Systems Group.

Under this first FMS case the US will provide critical navigational aids at Kirkuk and Taji airbases.

The Electronic Systems Centre (ESC) Group has estimated that refurbishing the Iraqi air traffic control infrastructure is worth about $300m.

The project is a part of a 2008 Iraqi air sovereignty master plan conducted by the ESC which covers a range of Iraqi military needs such as air defence, command and control and other sovereignty capabilities.

As a part of this plan, ESC will also deliver an ASR-11 digital airport surveillance radar and associated automation system at Kirkuk.

Conditions in Iraq and working in a war zone did pose some issues with the project, according to 853rd Electronic Systems Group Iraq programme manager Khalid Musameh.

“It was not easy to even get simple information about the conditions we had to work in,” Musameh said.

“We also had to address other issues, such as the availability of base support, use of local contractors, frequency management, and shipping.”

Musameh said that communication and risk management and strong support from prime contractors helped overcome these difficulties.

The systems installations at the Iraqi airbases will be complete by mid 2009, although the master plan will be fully implemented only by 2019.