The Iraqi Air Force will receive
13 additional F-16 aircraft in 2019, bringing to 34 the number of fighters operated by the service
. Quoted by the Arabic-language satellite TV channel Al-Hurra, Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, deputy air commander of CJTF-OIR’s land component said that the new aircraft will increase Baghdad's capabilities in eliminating terrorist organizations and will be strengthened by International training, scheduled to take place at Balad Air Base. In January, Sallyport Global was awarded
a $400 million foreign military sale (FMS) contract to support Iraq’s F-16 mission at Balad, with work to include comprehensive life and logistics support, security, construction, and base operation support services up until January 2019.
Iraq’s military has made significant strides in recent years, and the country is ordering more advanced military equipment to match. A slew of 2008 requests aimed to spend over $10 billion to buy advanced armored vehicles, strengthen its national military supply chain, build new bases and infrastructure for its army, and even buy advanced scout helicopters. Budget shortfalls have stretched out those buys, but that situation is easing, even as Iraq’s air force continues to make progress.
Anxious to complete its transformation and stand fully on its own, Iraq is pushing to begin flying its own fighters within the next couple of years – and is looking to buy American F-16s, rather than the Soviet and French fighters that made up Saddam’s air force.