Iraq Hopes to Receive First F-16 Jets This Summer

Reuters17.04.2015 Iraq
Iraq Hopes to Receive First F-16 Jets This Summer

Iraq Hopes to Receive First F-16 Jets This Summer

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After delays caused by the war with Islamic State, Iraq hopes to take first deliveries of its F-16 fighter jets from the United States this summer, a senior Iraqi official said.

The disclosure came ahead of a visit by Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who met with President Barack Obama in Washington earlier this week.

The Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the transfer as an important development for Iraq's Armed Forces and cited a July-August timeframe. The precise timeline for individual deliveries was unclear.

The Pentagon had no immediate comment.

Baghdad ordered 36 of the $65 million Lockheed Martin Corp planes, but initial deliveries to Balad air base north of Baghdad last year were delayed because of security concerns after Islamic State militants overran large areas of Iraq.

Iraqi Pilots have been training in the United States with the 162nd Wing Arizona Air National Guard at Tucson International Airport.

Lockheed Martin is producing the F-16s under a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense. The F-16s are being built in a configuration tailored to meet the specific requirements of the Iraqi Air Force, and the contract includes mission equipment and a support package provided by Lockheed Martin and other U.S. and international contractors.

“Iraq joins 27 other nations around the world who depend on the F-16 Fighting Falcon to maintain peace and security. We are proud to play a role in the defense of a new democracy and look forward to strengthening our partnership with Iraq.” said Orlando Carvalho, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics on 05 June 2014.

Meanwhile, Australia said Tuesday 330 troops were heading to Iraq for two years to train local soldiers fighting jihadists including the Islamic State group, joining an aerial and Special Forces contingent in the region.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the troops would be deployed from Wednesday and operate from the massive Taji base complex north of Baghdad alongside 100 soldiers from New Zealand.

They were mostly drawn from the Army's 7th Brigade based in Brisbane, he added.

Source: Reuters; AFP

Photo: The Republic of Iraq’s first F-16 Fighting Falcon on display at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility.



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