F-16IQ Iraqi Air Force

To further assist Iraq in providing for its own security, the Obama administration approved the sale of F-16 aircraft to that country, and in September 2011 the government of Iraq spent more than $1.5 billion to purchase the combat-proven F-16 advanced air defense fighter, as have 25 other nations. Iraqi Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Anwar Amin stated that the 1st F-16IQs won’t be operational before 2015 at the earliest.

This acquisition and others will facilitate interoperability not only with the USAF but also with many NATO and allied partners. Although a significant step towards renewing Iraq’s air defense, the decision to field a new weapon system such as the F-16 carries with it many challenges. These include ensuring the proficiency of Iraqi personnel in English, offering follow-on technical training for IqAF pilots and maintenance crews, making decisions on weapons storage, executing bilateral government agreements for the release of sensitive information, investing for the long term in modernizing and building base infrastructure, and developing career paths.

The Iraqi government transferred its first payment for 18 F-16C Fighting Falcons, bringing Iraq closer to independently securing its airspace, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said 27 September 2011. "These aircraft will help provide air sovereignty for Iraq to protect its own territory and deter or counter regional threats," Little said. The fighter aircraft, he said, "are also a symbol of the commitment to a long-term strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq." The fighters are the block 50/52 variant of the aircraft -- the current production version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The sale is valued at about $3 billion.

As of September 2011 Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant had some 60 F-16s in the production pipeline, with the last of these scheduled for delivery in 2013. Iraq's acquisition of F-16C/Ds will extend Lockheed's production of the type through 2018. Iraqi commanders say they ultimately want 96 F-16s, enough for five squadrons deployed around the country.

During a press conference 08 November 2011 the commander of the Iraqi air force said Iraq's purchase of 18 F-16C Fighting Falcons, for their future air defense, will encourage and strengthen the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Iraq. With this F-16 package, Iraq purchased logistical support as well as pilot and maintenance training. When the aircraft are delivered, most likely sometime in late 2014 or 2015, Iraq will have the most advanced multi-role fighter aircraft in the world.

On 12 December 2011 the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the US Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Iraq for 18 F-16IQ aircraft and associated equipment, parts, weapons, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $2.3 billion. The Government of Iraq requested a possible sale of 18 F-16IQ aircraft, 24 F100PW-229 or F110-GE-129 Increased Performance Engines, 120 LAU-129/A Common Rail Launchers, 24 APG-68(V)9 radar sets, 19 M61 20mm Vulcan Cannons, 100 AIM-9L/M-8/9 SIDEWINDER Missiles, 150 AIM-7M-F1/H SPARROW Missiles, 50 AGM-65D/G/H/K MAVERICK Air to Ground Missiles, 200 GBU-12 PAVEWAY II Laser Guided Bomb Units (500 pound), 50 GBU-10 PAVEWAY II Laser Guided Bomb Units (2000 pound), 50 GBU-24 PAVEWAY III Laser Guided Bomb Units (2000 pound), 22 ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDEWS), or Advanced Countermeasures Electronic System (ACES) (ACES includes the ALQ-187 Electronic Warfare System and AN/ALR-93 Radar Warning Receiver), 20 AN/APX-113 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) Systems (without Mode IV), 20 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Embedded GPS/ Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), (Standard Positioning Service (SPS) commercial code only), 20 AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER or AN/AAQ-28 LITENING Targeting Pods, 4 F-9120 Advanced Airborne Reconnaissance Systems (AARS) or DB-110 Reconnaissance Pods (RECCE), 22 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing Systems (CMDS), 20 Conformal Fuel Tanks (pairs), 120 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS), 20 AN/ARC-238 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems, 10,000 PGU-27A/B Ammunition, 30,000 PGU-28 Ammunition, 230 MK-84 2000 lb General Purpose Bombs, and 800 MK-82 500lb General Purpose Bombs.

Also included: LAU-117 Maverick Launchers, site survey support equipment, Joint Mission Planning System, Ground Based Flight Simulator, tanker support, ferry services, Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices (CAD/PAD), repair and return, modification kits, spares and repair parts, construction, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics support services, ground based flight simulator, and other related elements of logistics support.

The estimated cost is $2.3 billion. The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by enhancing the capability of Iraq's Air Force. The proposed aircraft and accompanying weapon systems will greatly enhance Iraq’s interoperability with the U.S. and other NATO nations, making it a more valuable partner in an important area of the world, as well as supporting Iraq’s legitimate need for its own self-defense. The proposed sale will allow the Iraqi Air Force to modernize its air force by acquiring western interoperable fighter aircraft, thereby enabling Iraq to support both its own air defense needs and coalition operations. The country will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.

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