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Iraq AF to order F-16s

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Iraq aims to buy 18 F-16 fighters in '09 :shok:

 

By Jim Wolf

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq wants to buy an initial squadron of Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter aircraft this year to help guard against perceived threats from Iran and Syria after U.S. forces leave, the head of the Iraqi Air Force told Reuters on Tuesday.

 

Lt. Gen. Anwar Ahmed said he hoped to sign a contract for 18 advanced F-16s as the centerpiece of billions of dollars Iraq is expected to spend on arms in coming years.

 

"This is very important to us," he said in a telephone interview while visiting Washington. "It is a priority."

 

Provided funds are made available by Iraq's Parliament, he said his goal was to acquire up to 96 F-16s through 2020. He cited the F-16C/D Block 50/52 models now being produced for Poland, Israel, Greece and Pakistan.

 

"We need this aircraft for defense of our country," Ahmed said. He mentioned Iran as a potential threat along with Syria, which he said has been a gateway for "terrorists" aiming to destabilize the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

 

If the funds are freed and a deal is wrapped up this year, the first two Iraqi-piloted F-16s would be patrolling Iraqi skies by 2012, he said.

 

By that time, all U.S. armed forces are due to have left Iraq under a bilateral pact negotiated last year.

 

The Iraqi Air Force chief said the initial F-16 squadron would cost roughly $1.5 billion, including logistics, spares and pilot-training plus a trainer fleet of 15 T-6A Texan aircraft built by Hawker Beechcraft Corp.

 

FOLLOW-UP TALKS

 

Ahmed, 54, said he had met a U.S. Air Force team in Baghdad on March 18 to discuss F-16 purchases and held follow-up talks with Pentagon officials on Tuesday.

 

So far, he said, U.S. officials supported Iraq's push to acquire the F-16, one of the world's most advanced multirole fighters and a powerful symbol of ties to the U.S. military.

 

A spokesman for the U.S.-led Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq, which advises the Iraqi Defense Ministry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

The potential sale was a government-to-government matter, said Joe Stout, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, which has delivered more than 4,400 F-16s worldwide.

 

U.S. reviews of possible arms sales can take a year or more. They involve the departments of State and Defense as well as Congress and weigh power balances, technology security and other thorny issues.

 

Iraq's push to buy the fighter jet could spark concern about advanced arms in the hands of a country still facing major internal challenges.

 

Ahmed, who took over as Air Force commander on January 1, said Maliki and Iraq's defense minister, Gen. Abdel Qader Jassim, were solidly behind the acquisition of the F-16.

 

"In the future you leave our country," he said in imperfect English. "You must have some aircraft like the F-16 in the country."

 

Ahmed was to attend the third Iraq Aviation and Defense Summit, an industry conference taking place outside Washington on Wednesday and Thursday to highlight Iraq's procurement plans.

 

Asked whether the Iraqi Air Force would be ready to defend the country by 2012, he said it would take more time. Among other things, Iraq would have to first acquire an air defense system, more fighter jets and complete the buildup of its ground forces, he said.

 

"I can't give you a specific timeline" for when Iraqi forces would be capable of defending the country on their own, Ahmed said.

 

About 20 Iraqi Air Force cadets were being trained in the United States, including pilots, control tower technicians and logistics experts, with plans to boost this number over coming years.

 

So far, the U.S. Congress has been notified of potential arms sales to Iraq totaling nearly $9 billion, including the M1A1 tank by General Dynamics Corp, light armored vehicles from various contractors, armed reconnaissance helicopters from either Boeing Co or Textron Inc, and Lockheed's C-130J cargo aircraft.

 

The majority of the deals have been developed over the last two years, said Charles Taylor, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which administers U.S. government-to-government arms sales.

 

(Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Tim Dobbyn)

 

From

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/i...lBrandChannel=0

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With other words the US gave the iraqis a short hint to buy american weapons. Its also a way to deal with the crisis. :smile:

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I guess there's no need for a weapons demo. They've had a few over the years...

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Wow, so soon? I wonder if Congress would approve it ot not considering there is still fighting there and the country could head into instability after American troops leave.

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It's the whole "which threat is worse" scenario. Sure the country could collapse, but it could also get in a fight with Iran again and this time get overrun...would that be better or worse?

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Pakistan is even more unstable and yet it has nukes (besides F-16s). I'd be more afraid about the fate of Pakistan's F-16s than iraqi F-16s. Because near Iraq there are still alot of friendly nations. But around Pakistan there's... conflict and only more potential conflict. I bet whoever is training the iraqis is making a point of them really having to buy american. Smart move by the US, cashing in those petro-dollar$. But having iraqi pilots training in the US? "And this is how we shot down the iraqi Air Force!" Talk about irony!!! :rofl:

Edited by TX3RN0BILL

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American goverment representative talking to Gen Ahmed regarding new fighter acquisition:

 

Gov't guy: Well Gen. Ahmed, its time for a new airforce, have you decided?

Gen Ahmed: I'm thinking of going American, maybe the F-16

Gov't guy: Lets not be too hasty, have you looked into Europe? The Swedes have that nice fighter, and I think the Germans and English built one.

Gen Ahmed: Um, how about the F-18 then?

Gov't Guy: I hear the Russians have those new high tech fighters, ever consider those?

Gen Ahmed: I really like those F-16s

Gov't Guy: *Sigh* Okay, well I'll see what I can do, but don't make it seem like you were pressured or anything...

 

Seriously, thats how it happenned, I was there

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Don't you just love the ironies of international politics? The first IranIraq war saw a largely western equipped Iran against Iraq flying mainly Russian and Chinese planes. A second war may see the opposite!

Edited by allenjb42

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Don't you just love the ironies of international politics? The first IranIraq war saw a largely western equipped Iran against Iraq flying mainly Russian and Chinese planes. A second war may see the opposite!

Absolutely correct! It's insane. Should Iran possibly get the nuke working, USA must hurry up to give some nukes in the hand of all neighbours and potential target contries.

 

Laughy joke, caesar50!!!!

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Maybe I'm just cynical but I expected this to happen. After WW2 didn't we sell our old stuff to Japan and Germany? Whats so different about this?

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Well, after that war there was no doubt that those countries were, at least for a foreseeable time, "on the same side" as the U.S. With Iraq, you can't be so sure... but Iraq isn't the only country.

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It was about a year ago they started talks on buying those. It looks like its more than talk then, good for them I am sure they can't wait to get their hands on that nimble little slerd fighter.

 

Also I hate to say it, but we are going to have a presence of some sort their. Just like Japan, S.Korea, Germany, and Cuba. We have established bases in Iraq, and we will probably keep established bases their for many decades to come. I just hope the day comes when it won't be combat duty and will just be an overseas station.

Edited by MAKO69

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