Reuters reports that Lockheed Martin hopes to sign sales contracts for up to 18 F-16 fighter jets with both Iraq and Oman by early 2012, and expects to book a total of about 100 additional orders by the end of the decade.
Lockheed is gradually winding down production of the popular multi-role fighter, which is in use by 25 countries worldwide, and was once produced at a rate of one a day, as it ramps up production of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified lawmakers last year about possible sales of 18 F-16 fighters to both Iraq and Oman, but both sales have been delayed.
The U.S. military wants Iraq to get the new fighter planes, particularly given plans to withdraw U.S. combat troops from the country, said one government official who was not authorized to speak on the record.
But Iraq announced in February that it would delay the purchase of the new fighter jets to put $900 million of allocated funds into its national food ration program instead.