The first of 36 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 fighters for the Iraqi Air Force made its first flight from the company’s Fort Worth, Texas facility. Iraq confirmed the purchase of 18 F-16s in September 2011, and has apparently committed to the other 18 since then. The Iraqi and other orders have extended the F-16 production line through 2017. More than 4,540 F-16s have been delivered to date.
F-16 Fighting Falcon operational history
As part of enhanced collective measures agreed to by member countries in April, NATO has deployed more fighters to eastern Europe in response to the continuing crisis in Ukraine. France and Canada have dispatched aircraft this week, while a new NATO multinational team is taking over the enhanced air defense detachment in the Baltic republics.
A war of words has flared between Ankara and Damascus this week after a Turkish air force Lockheed Martin F-16 shot down a Syrian air force Mikoyan MiG-23BN ground attacker on Sunday. While Syria described the shootdown as a “flagrant act of aggression,” Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warned Syria that “our response will be heavy if you violate our airspace.” Syria has also accused Ankara of shooting down the aircraft to deflect attention away from Turkish domestic political issues, just a week before local elections.