An Iraqi Government spokesman said on Wednesday that the Council of Ministers have approved the purchase of 18 F-16 Falcon military aircraft as part of a weapons deal signed with the U.S. administration.
Ali al-Dabbagh said in a news conference today following the Cabinet meeting that the U.S. will deliver the aircraft to Iraq within two to three years.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon, the first of the US Air Force multi-role fighter aircraft, is the world's most prolific fighter with more than 2,000 in service within the US Air Force and 2,000 operational in 25 other countries.
The F-16 and the F-15 Eagle were the world's first aircraft able to withstand higher g-forces than the pilots. The Fighting Falcon entered service in 1979. The last of 2,231 F-16 fighters for the US Air Force was delivered in March 2005.
The aircraft has nine hardpoints for weapons payloads: one at each wing tip, three under each wing and one centreline under the fuselage.
Outside the US, Israel is said to have the largest fleet of F-16 Falcons in the World.