Jun 5, 2014
Lockheed to deliver first of 36 F-16s to Iraq this week
Iraqi Ambassadorwill travel to Lockheed's Fort Worth, Texas, plant on Thursday for a ceremony at which Lockheed and the U.S. government will formally deliver the first F-16 to Iraq.
A group of three or four new jets will be ferried to Iraq before the end of the year.
Iraq has had no real air force since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that eventually toppled Saddam Hussein.
Baghdad has also signed military contracts with Russia and the Czech Republic, among others, and has said it will not be able to fully defend its airspace until 2020.
Iraq also plans to buy Apache helicopters and other weapons from the U.S. government as it assumes responsibility for its own defense and counterterrorism efforts.
Iraq is completing work on the air base in Balad where the new jets will be housed. Some Iraqi pilots had already been trained to fly the new planes, and more were in training now.
Iraq ordered a first batch of 18 F-16s in 2011, followed by a second order of 18 jets in October 2012.