The Iraqi Air Force has officially begun independent C-130 air operations from 29 September 2009 marking the end of the US C-130 air advisory mission in the nation.

The Squadron 23 is the largest C-130 squadron in the Iraqi Air Force and its mission includes delivering troops and cargo, supporting distinguished visitors and flying medical evacuation missions.

The squadron was established in January 2005 with the delivery of the three C-130E aircraft to the Iraqis through the excess defence articles programme.

US Air Force’s Iraq training and advisory mission 321st air expeditionary wing commander and director Major Gen. Robert C Kane said Iraqi pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters and maintainers have clearly demonstrated they are ready to perform missions and, most importantly, to do them well.

The squadron has received air advisory training including foundational training for pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters, crew chiefs and maintenance specialists in engines, sheet metal, avionics and hydraulics.