Sat Apr 17,12:47 PM ET By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq (news - web sites)'s once mighty air force is being rebuilt from scratch but without planes for now and with just 100 men who are currently undergoing training in Jordan, the U.S.-led coalition announced Saturday. By October, the Iraqi air force is expected to have a small fleet of light reconnaissance planes, a pair of Boeing C-130 Hercules transport craft and six Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopters. That fleet will triple by next April, when the force is expected to swell to 500, but there are no plans to purchase any fighter-jets or bombers, U.S. and British military officials told reporters Saturday. In May, the U.S.-led coalition disbanded Iraq's once massive armed forces. A new force is being reconstituted, mainly for internal security purposes. Iraq's previous air force was once considered the best in the Arab world. Founded in 1931, it fought in numerous conflicts in the Middle East, battling the British in 1941 and Israel in 1948 and 1967. Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) invested a huge portion of the country's oil wealth to equip the force during the 1980-88 war with Iran. At its zenith in the late 1980s, it listed nearly 750 combat aircraft, including Soviet MiGs and Sukhois and French Mirage fighters. Iraq's air force fell apart after two wars with the United States and a dozen years of international sanctions, dropping to just 100 air-worthy jets by 2002. Saddam's military tried to salvage its last few planes by burying them in the desert. U.S. forces unearthed the planes, which had their wings snapped off by the weight of the sand. The grit also destroyed the planes' avionics and hydraulic systems, the officials said. None of the old Iraqi air force, once worth billions, can be returned to service, the officials said. Many of the craft are being cut up for scrap. Iraq also to announce the creation of a 400-member Iraqi Coastal Defense Force next week, which will patrol the country's 50-mile coastline with a fleet of five patrol boats, a U.S. military official said. Saddam's regime bought the boats from China, but they were blocked from reaching Iraq. The craft are currently being refurbished in the United Arab Emirates, the official said. Iraq's air and naval forces will operate under the nominal control of the just-established Iraqi Ministry of Defense, which itself is subordinate to the U.S.-led coalition military here. Even after some sovereignty is handed to an interim Iraqi government — scheduled to take place on June 30 — the U.S. military will retain command over Iraq's defense forces, including the air force and coastal defense forces. Senior Iraqi air force staff will be sent to the United States for training, according to the U.S.-led coalition authority. A yet-to-be-selected Iraqi major general will command the force, the coalition said. The air force's chief role will be to patrol Iraq's international borders with Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Most of the force will be stationed at former Iraqi air bases in Baghdad and Taji, just north of the Iraqi capital. Smaller units will be based in the northern city of Kirkuk and Basra in the south. By contrast, in the 1990s, Iraq had 24 fully equipped air bases and about 30 emergency dispersal fields.