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Air Force extends Iraqi F-16 training in Tucson

Pilots from the Iraqi Air Force will continue to train out of Tucson for at least another year, flying F-16 fighters with the 162nd Fighter Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard.

The Pentagon renewed a contract to train the pilots, and will pay Lockheed Martin up to $32 million through next February, officials said this week.

The pilots from Iraq are among those from several nations that fly with the 162nd out of Tucson International Airport. The wing's training program includes personnel from Singapore, Poland, Oman, and NATO nations, including Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. About 40 students are taking part in the training program.

There are about six F-16s belonging to Iraq stationed in Tucson, part of an order for 36 of the planes placed in 2011 and 2012. Due to the instability in Iraq during the ISIS insurgency, some of the planes were delivered to Arizona for the training mission, rather than being based in that nation.

One of the Iraqi pilots training in Tucson was killed last year in a crash near Douglas.

Brig. Gen. Rafid Mohammed Hassan, who had been flying a night training mission with the Arizona Air National Guard, crashed an F-16 southeast of Tucson last June.

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An Iraqi F-16 taxis at TIA.