The United States will supply Iraq with F-16 fighter jets in July, the Iraqi Defence Ministry announced yesterday.
Iraqi Air Force commander, Staff Lieutenant General Anwar Hamad Amin said in a statement: “The Iraqi Air Force plays a significant and active role in protecting Iraq and hunting terrorist gangs and has participated in many operations.”
“We discussed the sale of F-16 fighter jets during Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s recent visit to Washington,” he added.
Amin said the deal comes to strengthen the Iraqi Air Force’s capabilities in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS).
He did not specify the number of F-16 fighter jets his country will receive, saying only that “they will arrive at the same time as the Iraqi pilots who completed their trainings to operate them.”
“The fighter jets will be used in several operations immediately upon their arrival,” he explained, noting that spare parts for the jets have already arrived in Iraq.
It was not possible to get immediate comment from US authorities.
Al-Abadi held talks last week with US President Barack Obama and several American officials regarding developments in Iraq’s war against ISIS.
Iraqi officials told reporters at the time that Al-Abadi asked the White House to provide Apache and F-16 fighter jets and other weapons and ammunition to enhance the Iraqi forces’ capabilities in the fight against ISIS.
He is also reported to have asked for payments for the weapons to be postponed due to lack of cash flow as a result of drop in oil prices which make up about 95 per cent of Iraq’s revenues.