Al-Taqaddum Air Base
|Al Taqaddum Airbase
|IATA: none – ICAO: ORAT – LID: MAT|
|Airport type||Military: Airbase|
|Operator||United States Marine Corps|
|Serves||Al Fallujah, Iraq|
|Elevation AMSL||275 ft / 84 m|
Al Taqaddum Airbase (Arabic: قاعدة التقدم الجوية ), or Al Taqaddum AB (ICAO: ORAT), (Called TQ in military shorthand slang), is an airbase that is located in central Iraq, approximately 74 kilometers west of Baghdad, at Habbaniyah. The airfield is served by two runways 13,000 and 12,000 feet (3,700 m) long. Since 2004, it has been known as Camp Taqaddum. ("Taqaddum" is an Arabic word which means "progress".)
The airbase was originally built by the RAF in 1952 as the subsidiary PLATEAU AIRFIELD of nearby RAF Habbaniya, whose runway was inadequate for the larger long range and jet aircraft being introduced. The original RAF runway was subsequently extended by the Iraqis and a parallel runway added. Some of the RAF buildings (Nissen huts) were still standing in 2003.
The Iraqi airbase was long-time abandoned when U.S. forces occupied it in March 2003. The U.S. Army started to refer to the base as Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ridgway. The first U.S. Battalion to occupy the base was the 142nd Corps Support Battalion. The primary mission of the 142nd was to provide logistical support to nearby non-divisional Army units. However, a consequential mission of the 800 soldier battalion was to guard the local Iraqi ammunition storage area that at one time supplied the ammunition requirements of the defunct Iraqi airbase. Aviation elements of the 3rd ACR occupied the airfield from April 2003 until replaced by 82nd Airborne Division in July 2003.
In 2004, the base name was changed to Camp Taqaddum to keep a more Iraqi face on the local military mission. On August 22, 2004, a group of Marines dedicated the airfield at Al Taqaddum to Lt. Col. David S. Greene, a reserve Marine AH-1W Super Cobra pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775 who was killed in action earlier in the year. "TQ" is a major hub of men and matériel moving into Anbar province by coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
According to the Gulf War Air Power Survey, there were 24 Hardened Aircraft Shelters at Al Taqaddum. At each end of the main runway are hardened aircraft shelters knowns as a HAS (pronounced Haas), "trapezoids" or "Yugos" which were built by Yugoslavian contractors some time prior to 1985. Various units of the U.S. Army found numerous MIG-21, MiG 25 and Su 25 Iraqi Air Force fighter jets partially buried in the area, presumably from the time of the Gulf War. By January 2004, almost all of the dozens of aircraft had been removed by the local citizens and burned, evedently, for scrap metal.
There are three "sides" to Al Taqaddum, "Lake Side", "Main Side", and "Spring Lake". These sides denote particular areas. Each area has its own chow hall and phone center. The PX and main military support services are located on "Main Side". "Lake Side" hosts the air terminal and the primary supply depot. "Spring Lake" hosts other logistics units.
TQ is adjacent to Lake Habbaniyah. This lake varies in colors, blue some days, to a greenish tint on others. The base is built on a desolate plateau overlooking the Euphrates River to the north and Lake Habbaniyah to the south. A drainage canal from Lake Habbaniyah flows between it and the base at Habbaniyah.
In late 2009 Al Taqaddum was turned back over to the Iraqi Military.
On August 22, 2004, a group of Marines dedicated the airfield at Al Taqaddum to Lt. Col. David S. Greene, a reserve Marine AH-1W Super Cobra pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, who was killed in action July 28, 2004. Greene was flying a mission in support of I Marine Expeditionary Force when he was killed by small arms fire.
Al Taqaddum Pre 2003
List of Iraqi Airforce Units and Squadrons Present Pre 2003
- MiG 21 Iraqi Air Force 14th Squadron
- MiG 23 Iraqi Air Force 73rd Squadrons
- MiG 29 Iraqi Air Force 6th Squadron
- Su 22 Iraqi Air Force 5th Squadron (6 wings)
- Su 25 Iraqi Air Force 105th and 109th Squadrons
No less than 51 different IrAF fighters were found hidden under camouflage nets near al-Taqaddum, by Australian SAS. Although still only scant details are known about these aircraft, US and British military sources reported that these 51 aircraft included three MiG-25s (including a single MiG-25PU two-seater), a Su-25K and a Su-7U, a MiG-29, several F-7Bs and Su-22UM-3Ks, as well as one Ilushin Il-76 transport.
On the same airfield the US forces also found the hulks of five remaining Iraqi Tupolev Tu-22B “Blinder” supersonic bombers. All were still sitting in their revetments where they were hit and destroyed by Coalition air attacks in 1991. Near them the wreckage of the Adnan-1 AEW aircraft, a 3rd example was found, also destroyed by air attacks in 1991, as well as the wreck of the last Iraqi Tu-16 or H-6D bomber, which survived 1991, and was made operational in 2000 again: this old bomber was observed in flight – together with the sole surviving Iraqi Su-24MK – as late as February 2003, but was then obviously hit by US air strikes.
The last Iraqi Su-24MK was apparently captured intact, and there are rumours that it was meanwhile flown to the USA as well. Another rarity reported to have survived the war at al-Taqaddum were several Ilyushin Il-28 “Beagle” bombers, including one Il-28U training aircraft. Supplied to the IrAF in 1960, this aircraft must have certainly seen quite some service history: they were used during the extensive campaigns against the Kurds, in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, as well as early during the war against Iran, in the 1980s.
List of Marine Corps Units since 2005
Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) Special Unit To install Armor on all HMMWV (Humvee) at TQ
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Al Taqaddum.|
- Al Taqaddum Airbase from Globalsecurity.org
- Airport information for ORAT at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.
- Exhumating the Dead Iraqi Air Force
- Article on the uncovering of between 30 and 40 of Iraqi Air Force (IrAF) aircraft buried at Al-Taqaddum Air Base.