United States to Sell F16 Jets to Iraq

AK News quotes a spokesman of the American military in Iraq as saying that they will supply Lockheed Martin F-16 jets to the Iraqi Air Force.

"There are discussions between Baghdad and Washington to buy F-16 jets to support the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi air force," Gen. Stephen Lanza said.

"My country is still considering this issue, and transfering such weapons needs the approvals of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries, in addition to the Congress," he added.

"The Iraqi Air Force needs developed equipment to be able to protect its space and the decision regarding buying the aircraft goes back to the Iraqi government."

"The Iraqi Air Force today has more than 100 planes and it is growing to reinforce its troops; today it has approximately 9,500 pilots that have developed their abilities through courses outside the country," Gen. Lanza added.

The Kuwaiti government has asked the United States last year not to arm the Iraqi army with developed weapons that may interfere with the power balance in the region, and it demanded written guarantees that the Iraqi military won't carry out any operations against countries of the region.

Meanwhile, Strategy Page reports that "Iraq is expanding its air force to over 140 aircraft and 6,000 personnel. Within five years, it plans to have over 500 aircraft, most of them non-combat types. By 2015, Iraq wants to have about 35 squadrons (14 fighter, 5 attack helicopter, 5 armed scout helicopter, 2 transport, 2 reconnaissance, 1 fixed wing training, 1 helicopter training, 3 helicopter transport, 1 utility/search and rescue, and 1 special operations). The $1.5 billion the air force needs for its first 18 F-16s includes what it will cost to build maintenance and training infrastructure for that type of aircraft."

(Sources: AK News, Strategy Page)

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