Iraq Makes First Payment for 18 F-16 Fighters

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2011 — The Iraqi gov­ern­ment has trans­ferred its first pay­ment for 18 F-16C fight­er air­craft, bring­ing Iraq clos­er to inde­pen­dent­ly secur­ing its air­space, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said yes­ter­day.

“These air­craft will help pro­vide air sov­er­eign­ty for Iraq to pro­tect its own ter­ri­to­ry, and deter or counter region­al threats,” Lit­tle said.

The fight­er air­craft, he added, “are also a sym­bol of the com­mit­ment to a long-term strate­gic part­ner­ship between the Unit­ed States and Iraq.

The fight­ers are the block 50/52 vari­ant of the air­craft — the cur­rent pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the F-16 Fight­ing Fal­con. The sale is val­ued at about $3 bil­lion, Lit­tle said.

The Unit­ed States con­ducts for­eign mil­i­tary sales with Iraq, he added, “and ful­ly sup­ports Iraq’s efforts to pur­chase mil­i­tary equip­ment in line with its domes­tic spend­ing pri­or­i­ties and in accor­dance with its bud­get laws and pro­ce­dures.”

Such for­eign mil­i­tary sales will be a cor­ner­stone of future coop­er­a­tion and sup­port the devel­op­ment of a long-term coop­er­a­tive secu­ri­ty rela­tion­ship with Iraq, Lit­tle said.

“For­eign mil­i­tary sales around the world, such as this pur­chase of F-16 air­craft,” the press sec­re­tary said, “strength­en our diplo­mat­ic and mil­i­tary rela­tion­ships with our allies and sup­ports Amer­i­can indus­try and jobs at home.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)