Please keep this in perspective: Iraq does not provide potable water for the majourity of its citizens, there are still 4 million Iraqis displaced because of ethnic cleansing (termed “civil war” by the US), cholera has become a majour concern (again) in the past few days, violence is still rampant with nearly 400 people dying (and rather more being wounded) from bombers, gunshots, and other murders in the last month in the country.
What is wrong with this picture?
Richard Jehn / The Rag Blog
WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (Reuters) – The Iraqi government has asked for information about buying 36 F-16 fighter aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corp, the U.S. Defense Department said on Friday.
The request, received Aug. 27, is being reviewed “in the normal course of business” as part of the U.S. government-to-government arms sale process, said Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman.
Updated F-16s are among the world’s most advanced multirole fighters and a powerful symbol of military ties to the United States.
Iraq’s interest in the fighter jet, reported first by The Wall Street Journal, could spark concerns among neighbors worried about advanced arms in the hands of a country still facing major internal challenges.
U.S. reviews of possible arms sale 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. If a contract were ultimately signed, deliveries could take another year or more, depending on the model in question.
The Pentagon did not specify which F-16 version Iraq was eyeing, nor whether it was new or refurbished. A Lockheed spokesman referred questions to the Pentagon.
F-16C/D Block 50/52 models are now being produced for Poland, Israel, Greece and Pakistan. The United Arab Emirates was the maiden customer for the Block 60 version, the most sophisticated F-16 produced to date.
More than 4,400 F-16s have been delivered worldwide, according to Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin. Morocco this year became the 25th and latest overseas buyer with a deal for 24 new Block 50/52 models and related gear said by the Pentagon to be worth as much as $2.4 billion.
Iraq’s request for pricing and availability data might not necessarily lead to a sale. Sometimes governments seek such information for planning purposes only, the Pentagon’s Ryder said.
Flush with billions of dollars from oil sales, Iraq is emerging as the biggest client for a wide range of U.S. weapons — a shot in the arm for defense contractors such as Lockheed, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp and Raytheon Co.
Among other systems, Iraq is seeking more than 400 armored vehicles plus six C-130 transport planes built by Lockheed, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier.
On July 30, the Pentagon notified Congress that Iraq also was seeking to buy 24 Textron Inc Bell Armed 407 or 24 Boeing AH-6 helicopters along with 565 120mm mortars, 665 81mm mortars, 200 AGM-114M Hellfire missiles and other arms that could be worth $2.4 billion.
Baghdad and Washington are working on a long-term security pact that calls for U.S. military forces to quit Iraq’s cities by next summer as a step toward a broader withdrawal from the country that U.S.-led forces invaded in 2003 to topple President Saddam Hussein.
F-16s would let Iraqi forces conduct airstrikes of their own on insurgent positions rather than relying on U.S. forces to do so, as is now the case.
Overseas sales have kept Lockheed’s F-16 production line open after the U.S. military shifted to more advanced fighters, including the radar-evading F-22 also built by Lockheed.
“The program is healthy and full of activity, with firm production through 2012 and a strong likelihood of new orders that will extend the line for several more years,” John Larson, vice president for Lockheed’s F-16 programs, told reporters in July at the Farnborough Air Show outside London.
(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, John Wallace, Phil Berlowitz)
© Thomson Reuters 2008
Source / Reuters
And there’s this from three weeks ago:
Iraqi Army T-72 tanks and an M113.
Iraqi Army beefs up armored forces
By DJ Elliott / August 15, 2008
The Iraqi government’s announcement it will spend nearly $11 billion on weapons systems highlights its desire to upgrade the capabilities of the Iraqi armed forces from a primarily counterinsurgency force to a military capable of protecting its own borders from outside threats. Included in the purchase are 24 light attack helicopters, mortar systems, six C-130 transports, various support vehicles, 392 Light Armored Vehicles, and above all else, 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks. The initial purchase of the Abrams tanks indicates the Iraqi Army is starting to transform from a light motorized force into a mixed force with armored, mechanized, and cavalry divisions capable of countering the Iranian and Syrian armies.
Read the rest of it here. / Long War Journal