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US won't deliver F-16s to Iraq

December 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm

The United States officially informed the Iraqi government on Sunday night that it will not deliver the first batch of F-16 fighter jets to Baghdad, a senior official in the Iraqi defence ministry revealed yesterday.

Former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki signed a deal for 36 Lockheed Martin Corp planes as part of a $12 billion arms deal aimed at strengthening the Iraqi military’s defence capabilities.

The source said the Pentagon informed Iraq that it refuses to send the fighter jets due to the lack of adequate protection provided at the Iraqi military bases and airports which increases the risk of attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS) organisation against them.

The US has also refused Iraq’s proposal to deposit the aircrafts at the Balad Air Base in the Salahuddin province due to the increased number of militias loyal to Iran at the base.

Iraqi MP Mohammed Al-Jaff stressed: “The United States remains committed to the arms deal signed with Iraq, but believes the current situation is unsuitable for Iraq to possess such fighter jets and that the coalition’s raids are sufficient to protect Baghdad from ISIS’ attacks.”

He added that “45 Iraqi pilots are still training in an Arizona air base”.