Textron‘s [TXT] King Air-350 (KA-350) has been the most capable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) asset of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), though field reports have said that it is vulnerable to jamming, according to the latest DoD Inspector General (IG) quarterly report to Congress on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).
The Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) said that “the ISF is very capable of collecting and analyzing intelligence that supports targeting, especially at the operational command level,” according to the report. “However, CJTF-OIR explained that ISF intelligence collection through theater-level ISR platforms remains a shortcoming. CJTF-OIR stated that the Iraqi Air Force’s KA-350 aircraft in service is Iraq’s most capable theater-level ISR platform, but it is comparatively less capable than Coalition assets.”
Such coalition assets include the General Atomics‘ MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft system. The ISF also employs 16 Boeing InSitu [BA] ScanEagle and 18 AeroVironment [AVAV] RQ-20 Puma ISR drones.
“CJTF-OIR explained that the expectations of Iraqi JOC-I [Joint Operations Command-Iraq] leadership were determined by the clarity of full motion video feeds from ISR platforms that were displayed on the Enhanced Joint Operations Center screens,” per the report. “CJTF-OIR said that the systems onboard Iraqi KA-350 aircraft are of lower quality than Coalition systems and that the KA-350 is only able to fly a 4- to 5-hour sortie that results in 2 to 3 hours on station, while Coalition ISR systems are able to maintain 18 hours on station. Additionally, CJTF-OIR said there are limited KA-350 aircraft available in the ISF fleet, but they are used when available, many times without coordination with Coalition operations and intelligence advisor input. CJTF-OIR also said that Iraqi KA-350 crews recently have complained about susceptibility to ‘jamming’ and spectrum interference that disrupts operations.”
ISF has six KA-350s and also uses eight Cessna AC/RC-208s, some capable of carrying two Lockheed Martin [LMT] AGM-114 Hellfire guided missiles. Cessna is also part of Textron.
The Pentagon reduced U.S. force levels in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500 during the final quarter of last year and continues to deploy 900 U.S. troops in Syria, while an estimated 8,000 to 16,000 ISIS members remained fighting a low-level insurgency in Iraq and Syria, DoD said.