The delay in Air Force procurement was said to have included the
U.S.-origin F-16 multi-role fighter. Baghdad, in the first purchase of U.S.
air combat platforms, has requested 18 F-16 Block 52+ aircraft in a $4.3
But in November the Iraqi Defense Ministry acknowledged delays in
the purchase of U.S.- and French-origin aircraft. The ministry cited a
funding shortage in the 2011 budget.
As a result, the Air Force has been seeking cheaper non-Western air
platforms. One such candidate has been the Czech-origin L-59 air trainer,
which could be selected over such Western contenders as the Hawk, T-50 and
M-346. The Defense Ministry has been administering a tender to procure 24
In 2010, the Air Force received 15 U.S.-origin T-6A trainers ordered
from Hawker Beechcraft. The T-6 basic trainer was meant to prepare Iraqi
pilots for the F-16s, meant for delivery by 2013.
"It is probable that the price of new aircraft proved prohibitive and
that Iraq is now looking at buying cheaper used jet trainer aircraft," D.J.
Elliot, former U.S. intel analyst, said.