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US to deliver F16 fighter jets to Iraq after long delay

April 15, 2015 at 12:38 pm

After delays caused by the war with ISIS, Iraq hopes to take the first deliveries of its F-16 fighter jets from the United States this summer, said a senior Iraqi official to Reuters.

The disclosure of the news came to the public during the visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to the US. He met with US President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

The Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the transfer as an important development for Iraqi armed forces and cited a July- August timeframe for delivery. The precise timeline for individual deliveries was unclear.

Baghdad ordered 36 of the $65 million Lockheed Martin Corp planes, but initial deliveries to Balad air base north of Baghdad were delayed because of security concerns after ISIS militants overran large areas of Iraq. The US feared the weapons could end up in the hands of militias.

Iraqi pilots have been training in the US with the 162nd Wing Arizona Air National Guard at Tucson International Airport.

Iraq is also struggling on the financial front from what an International Monetary Fund team in December called the “double shock” of the costs of waging war on the Islamic State and the sharp decline in oil prices.

During his visit to the US, Abadi sought financial help from Obama and asked for drones and other arms.

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would provide Iraq with $200 million in humanitarian assistance. Washington Post said this amount fell far short of the aid sought by Abadi.