Frustrated by the slow process of acquiring American air power hardware, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has turned elsewhere. He told the BBC’s Arabic Service that Iraq has “bought second-hand fighters from Russia and Belarus that will arrive in a few days’ time.” Maliki’s government is trying to counter a rapid advance by The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (Isis), whose fighters have overrun most of five Iraqi provinces.
Iraqi Air Force
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.
The U.S. government said this week that it will expedite foreign military sales (FMS) to Iraq, including deliveries of small UAVs and Hellfire missiles, to help stem spiraling violence in Anbar Province. The weaponry is part of a “holistic” strategy the U.S. and Iraqi governments are pursuing to dislodge al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, officials said.
Demand at Beechcraft for special-mission variants of the King Air is growing at a rate the Wichita OEM finds at least gratifying and at most downright exciting.
Beechcraft has sold more than 50 King Air twin turboprops for special missions this year, according to Dan Keady, the company’s senior v-p for special missions. “That’s double last year’s total,” he told AIN.
Last week Iraq took delivery of the first batch of Mil helicopters from the Rostvertol factory. Four Mi-35Ms were delivered to Iraq, their arrival being announced by Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Iraqi managers, crews and technicians have been training at the Russian army’s Torzhok center, with the first group completing its course in late September. Following the delivery of the initial batch will be at least two more Mi-35Ms, and a sizeable batch of Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopters.
International Wings Group (IWG), the privately owned, Jordan-based aviation concern, has won the management contract for Iraq Gate, the first private jet company with an air operator’s certificate (AOC) in Iraq. It said its unit, Arab Wings (Stand 2418), the Jordanian charter unit of IWG, won the contract in June.
American defense contractors are set to enjoy revenues of nearly $4.7 billion from Iraq, according to a series of arms sales notifications by the Pentagon to Congress in the past two weeks. The potential sales include an integrated air defense system worth $2.4 billion and 30 Bell 412EP helicopters worth $300 million. The deals include training and support.
This week at the Paris Air Show Beechcraft (Chalet/Static I) announced a 28-month contract extension to the contractor logistics support program it provides for the Iraqi Air Force’s six King Air 350/350ER special-mission aircraft. Beechcraft’s global mission support (GMS) team provides the in-country support and comprises 15 personnel. As well as technicians the team includes instructors to train Iraqi maintenance personnel. The Iraqi GMS team operates a base supply warehouse and provides services on a cost-per-flying hour model.
Iraq has agreed to acquire 28 Aero Vodochody L-159 advanced trainer/light attack aircraft from the Czech Republic, the two countries announced on October 15.
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