As the U.S. and Iran continue to launch airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State group targets, Iraqi pilots learning how to fly F-16s in the U.S. are years away from completing their training.

The first two of 24 Iraqi pilots in the training pipeline could graduate as instructor pilots in fiscal 2017, but their training is based on experience and proficiency, not set timelines, said 1st Lt Jose Davis, a spokesman for Air Education and Training Command.

Those two pilots were expected to complete Flight Lead Upgrade training in September, but that has slipped until February or March, Davis said. Afterward, they will need to log at least 500 flight hours before beginning instructor pilot training. That can take between 18 months and 24 months, but the bottom line is they will begin instructor pilot training when they are ready. […]