Possible F‑16 Buy Highlights Iraq’s Progress

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2011 — Iraq’s poten­tial pur­chase of 18 U.S. F‑16 Fight­ing Fal­con air­craft is an encour­ag­ing devel­op­ment that ben­e­fits both nations, the senior U.S. Air Force com­po­nent com­man­der in Iraq told Pen­ta­gon reporters today.

“I do not have any word yet that a let­ter of offer and accep­tance is signed, but as you prob­a­bly know, we did have a senior mem­ber of the Iraqi gov­ern­ment vis­it Wash­ing­ton,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Rus­sell J. Handy, com­man­der, 9th Air and Space Expe­di­tionary Task Force-Iraq, and direc­tor, Air Com­po­nent Coor­di­na­tion Element-Iraq. 

“There was some great work done on that. Every­one that I talk to at every lev­el of gov­ern­ment in Iraq is con­vinced that that is the right approach for them,” Handy said. “And so we’re very encour­aged by those words, and we feel that we’re very close to them sign­ing that let­ter of offer and acceptance.” 

Handy said the Iraqis could poten­tial­ly buy more F‑16 air­craft if, and when, they sign a let­ter of offer and acceptance. 

“They are seek­ing to buy a larg­er num­ber of F‑16s than they had orig­i­nal­ly — up to 36,” he said. “This first let­ter of offer and accep­tance is for 18 of them … we hope to hear very soon that’s signed but no final word yet on that.” 

Handy not­ed things remain very promis­ing but chal­leng­ing in Iraq with Iraqis “on a path to be able to stand alone as a sta­ble, self-reliant and uni­fied nation.” 

“It’s very excit­ing … because we are afford­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to see the results of years of progress by many, many Amer­i­cans’ — hard-earned progress,” the gen­er­al said. “It’s chal­leng­ing because as we con­tin­ue to estab­lish this endur­ing strate­gic part­ner­ship, we are re-pos­tur­ing or rede­ploy­ing some 50,000 sol­diers, sailors, air­men, Marines and civil­ians from Iraq and tran­si­tion­ing bases, facil­i­ties and infra­struc­ture to the gov­ern­ment of Iraq and our U.S. Embassy partners.” 

Handy laud­ed U.S. mil­i­tary efforts in Iraq as troops con­duct sta­bil­i­ty and tran­si­tion­ing operations. 

“The air­men I have the priv­i­lege of lead­ing in Iraq through this chal­lenge have a very impor­tant role in the tran­si­tion,” he said. “We con­tin­ue to per­form all the roles and mis­sions we’ve done for a num­ber of years.” 

Handy said these mis­sions include over watch of Amer­i­can forces with intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, recon­nais­sance assets; close air sup­port; air mobil­i­ty; aer­i­al port oper­a­tions; per­son­nel recov­ery; and air base man­age­ment — all while re-pos­tur­ing U.S. forces. 

“In addi­tion to these tra­di­tion­al air com­po­nent tasks, you’ll find air­men work­ing togeth­er with their joint part­ners in just about every area in the coun­try, to include engi­neer­ing, ana­lysts, logis­tics spe­cial­ists,” Handy added. 

The senior U.S. Air Force com­man­der in Iraq also praised air­men for their per­for­mance as advi­sors to Iraqi air force personnel. 

“Our Air Force per­son­nel have helped the Iraqi air force and the Iraqi Army Avi­a­tion Com­mand progress to where they are now and have much to be proud of,” Handy said. “These advi­sors have been very suc­cess­ful — extra­or­di­nar­i­ly so if you think about it in the last five years.” 

Iraqi air force and Iraqi Army Avi­a­tion Com­mand ranks “have grown ten­fold,” Handy said, not­ing Amer­i­can air­men have had an advi­so­ry role in those Iraqi units. 

“As the Iraqis are mov­ing for­ward and we’re tran­si­tion­ing, we are hand­ing more and more of those func­tions com­plete­ly over to the Iraqis,” Handy said. “Those proud, young Iraqi air­men I spoke of give us great hope.” 

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

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →