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Wednesday, April 14, 2010    

Iraq's makes wish list official: Two dozen F-16s

WASHINGTON — Iraq was said to have relayed a formal request for the F-16 multi-role fighter from the United States.   

Industry sources said the Iraqi Defense Ministry has submitted a request for 24 F-16s from Washington. They said the request was relayed in March 2010 and called for delivery of the aircraft over the next two years.

"Iraq has finally and formally requested 24 F-16s from the United States," D.J. Elliot, author of the blog "Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle," said. "Delivery could start as early as next year, but likely in 2012/13 time frame."

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Industry sources confirmed the Iraqi request. They said the Baghdad government, which seeks 96 combat aircraft by 2020, was expecting to receive surplus U.S. Air Force F-16A/Bs in the first stage of procurement.

Elliot said Iraq and the Defense Department could sign a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for the F-16s by the end of 2010. He said Baghdad has not yet reached the order stage.

Over the next few months, the Defense Department and State Department plan to review the Iraqi request. The sources said the Pentagon has approved the request in principle.

In 2008, Iraq submitted a formal request for availability and price for up to 36 F-16s from the United States. The Pentagon has never released its response.

"In 2012, the Iraqi Air Force will not have any fighters unless they are provided with used aircraft," Elliot said. "Even in that case, they will be three years at minimum training personnel to make those aircraft a functional and effective air defense force."

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