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Saddam's Navy Modernization

Most of Iraq's Navy was destroyed during Operation Iraqi Freedom during early 2003, and all remaining equipment was junked in the immediate aftermath of the war. None of the vessels acquired during Saddam's time remained in service.

The most significant threat from the Iraqi navy was from smaller patrol boats that could be used to lay mines or harass shipping. Iraq also had a limited number of SEERSUCKER coastal defense cruise missiles.

The Iraqi navy consisted of three major surface classes: an 1850-ton Class FFT, a BOGOMOL Class PC, and an OSA I Class PTG. Minor classes include: PB 90 Class PB, ZHUK Class PB, BHC SR N6 WINCHESTER Class LCPA, YEVGENYA Class MSI, NESTIN Class MSB, and a yacht with a helicopter deck. There were, however, numerous units of smaller patrol boat size, such as the SWARY classes. Iraq was estimated to have more than 150 of these smaller boats. Although these boats were typically the size of small to medium power/speed boats and not heavily armed, they could be used for limited mining or raiding missions.

It had demonstrated some naval activity after accepting the new UN resolution, with its coastal patrol boats steaming inside its territorial waters. The Osa remained berthed and had not been observed under way.

During Operation Desert Storm Coalition naval forces literally eliminated the Iraqi Navy and projected power ashore. Surface combatants, helicopters, carrier-based aircraft, land-based P-3s, and multinational naval partners all contributed to the destruction of more than 100 Iraqi vessels. The Iraqi Navy had 19 ships sunk and 6 vessels damaged. Of the units that remain, most are in a poor state of repair, seldom operate even for training purposes, and the crews are estimated to be in a poor state of readiness.

Awaiting delivery pending payment in 1990, the Gulf War put a stop to any possibility of the ten or so ships of different classes from being delivered, and they languished in Italian dockyards for some time. Italy took the four Lupo class frigates, and Malaysia picked up the four smaller FFLs. Two other modified Al Walids (With a helicopter hangar) are as yet unspoken for.

At the outset of the 1991 Persian Gulf conflict the IISS Military Balance indicated the Iraqi Navy had three Italian made Lupo frigates in service. In fact, while the Lupo frigates had been ordered by Iraq, they had not been shipped due to the embargo following Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in August 1990. The four Lupo class frigates were claimed by the Italian government in 1991 and now serve the Italian navy.

Variants of the Assad class built for Libya, four ships were built for the Iraqi Navy as the Al Walid class. The Assad (formely Wadi) class are small guided missle corvettes initially built for Libya by Italy. Similar ships were built for Iraq, though the Iraqi ships can carry a heliocopter and had two additional Otomat anti ship missles along with launcers for eight Aspide missles. The Iraqi ships had a nasty sting with their four Otomat missles, but were vulnerable since they had no anti aircraft missles. The original Assad ships had been ordered by the Iraqi Navy, but the supply of the missile corvettes was stopped by United Nations sanctions. The two helo-capable corvettes had been delivered in 1986, but never left Italy. They were interned in 1991. The four non-helo capable variant corvettes were ordered by Iraqi navy and constructed by Fincantieri, Italy, but remain laid up in Italian ports as the outbreak of the Gulf war. They were also claimed by Italy in 1991 and eventually sold to Malaysia. In October 1995 the Malaysian Ministry of Finance signed a contract with Fincantieri for the supply of two 650t missile corvettes for the Royal Malaysian Navy. A further two missile corvettes were ordered in February 1997. Two Assad class corvettes (FSG) (full load displacement is 750 tons, with SSM, and SAM) were also commissioned in 1997. Two more contracts were signed on 20 February 1997 for conversion and delivery in 1998.

The training frigate Ibn Marjid [Ibn Maghid] was badly damaged in the 1991 Gulf War, and reportedly has not gotten under way under her own power since that time. The single ex-Soviet 'Osa I' class patrol boat probably has not been underway since 1991, and the three remaining minesweepers have not operated since 1991. The single remaining Nyryat II [Soviet Bogomol-class] patrol boat is believed to be non-operational.

The presidential yacht Al Mansur is laid up, and the presidential yacht Al Qadisiya had been laid up since the mid-1980's. The oiler Agnadeen was interned at Alexandria in 1986, and her builders were awarded (nominal) custody. A 6,000 ton floating drydock is also interned at Alexandria, and the builders have also been awarded (nominal) custody.



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