Iraq Wants to Double its F-16 Buy (or Does It?)

Iraq has not only reopened talks to buy F-16 fighters but it apparently wants to expand its first buy of frontline jet fighters in decades to 36 jets.

The country has been rebuilding its air force with significant U.S. help had hoped to buy 18 F-16s for $4.2 billion but froze talks on that deal earlier this year. Now, awash in higher than expected oil revenues, the company wants to double that purchase. Additionally, Iraq is requesting air defense missiles and guns to complement the modern network of air defense radars the U.S. has been helping it build.

The Iraqi air force has been steadily rebuilding starting with small propellor planes like the Cessna Caravan and Beechcraft Kingairs which are used for ISR and light transport to standing up units that fly C-130 cargo planes and UH-1N Huey II helicopters. The IqAF is in the midst of acquiring T-6 Texan II trainers, a step toward building an indigenous capability to qualify pilots to fly high performance aircraft. Still, you can bet that future Iraqi fighter jocks will likely learn to fly T-38 jetss here in the states and then Falcons at the USAF’s F-16 schoolhouse at Luke AFB, Arizona.

In addition to the F-16s, Iraq is hoping to buy a modern fleet of helicopters and get back a bunch of old Soviet fighters it sent to Yugoslavia in the late 1980s to be refurbished.

At the end of the day, one has to ask if this investment in fighters is worthwhile considering the threat of a renewed civil war (for which F-16s wouldn’t be very cost-effective) still looms over the country and that basic government services are still scant.

Here’s more on the potential fighter deal.

Bloomberg, however, is reporting that Iraq wants to abandon its fighter deal:

Iraq isn’t currently seeking to buy U.S. F-16 fighter jets made byLockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) because it lacks the funds to rebuild itsair force, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

“Iraq is determined to rebuild its air power capabilities, but the plan is postponed,” al-Dabbagh said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. “There are no new negotiations by the Iraqi government or the defense ministry,” he said. The defense portfolio is held by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that Iraq has started negotiations to buy U.S. fighter jets

The Iraqi government was close to signing an agreement on the purchase last year before plans were delayed when funds were diverted for food rations and other urgent items, al-Dabbagh said.

“The plan was postponed, but not canceled as we will rebuild our armed forces in the next few years when there will be more liquidity,” the spokesman said.


  • CSZ

    Ah, as expected, the Iraqi oil (and oil money) eventually goes to uncle Sam…

  • elportonative77

    Hey does anyone know more about the T-11 suspension and the death it supposedly caused? I can’t find much on my own.

  • chaos0xomega

    36 F-16s would make the Iraqi air force largerthan some western militaries, funny how that works…

  • kim

    Tsk, Tsk, as if a fighter’s usefullness was the deciding factor when purchasing it. Remember the F-5 Freedom Fighter, the low-cost alternative from Northrop? Didn’t sell much, even if it would do what most airforces needed. But it just wasn’t as sexy as the mach 2+ capable fighters all the other air forces would buy.

  • CSZ

    During iraq-iran war Iran was armed by US with F-4, F-5 and F-14s, while Iraq was equipped with Mig-21, 23 and 25s.

    Now that the table has turned … maybe we’ll finally see F-16s shooting down their stablemates?

  • aSDF

    those fighters that they sent to yugoslavia are worthless – 30 yrs of hardly any maintenance does that

  • david

    Has Israel given the US the OK to go forward with this sale?

  • Rajarata

    What a waste of $ …Iraq needs to build that country not buy expensive toys ~

  • jamesb

    This sounds like a US person standing behind an Iraq militarty guy ….
    Telling him what to say…..
    High performance jet fighters?

    Come on….
    Does someone expect us to believe this?

  • jamesb

    Contractors trying to get at the Oil money…….

    That’s all…

    Besides WTF knows what the political stucture of that country will be 5…10 …15 years out?

  • William C.


    We need the money so why not? Plus it keeps the F-16 line running and maybe it will deter the Iranians if they get any crazy ideas.

  • ncb1010

    233 million a piece. What a steal for a 40 year old aircraft.

  • miker

    And when Iran decides to take over Iraq, once we are gone that will upgrade their aging fleet.

    • blight

      Oh indeed, and that’s why we should never have fought in South Vietnam! But we did. And the world did not end. And because we trusted our erstwhile allies, less Americans were deployed, and less died.

  • David

    Next thing you know US will be giving them b-2s