Iraq Unveils Ambitious Plan to Expand and Diversify Air Force Fleet

Iraq’s Air Force Commander, Lieutenant General Shihab Jihad, unveiled an ambitious plan to expand and diversify the Iraqi Air Force’s fleet of aircraft during an interview with the Iraqi News Agency (INA) on Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Jihad explained that the plan is part of Iraq’s efforts to strengthen the capabilities of its armed forces and security forces with the latest military technologies.

Joint Exercises with Italy

In addition to the expansion plan, Lieutenant General Jihad also announced the objectives of the joint exercises being conducted by the Iraqi Air Force with its Italian counterpart, which focus on enhancing combat readiness, increasing confidence and experience in dealing with threats and changes in the region.

US and Iraqi Support

Iraqi Defense Minister Thabit al-Abasi revealed discussions between the Iraqi Prime Minister and his US counterpart on providing Iraq with F-16 fighter jets and Bell helicopters.

Leaning Towards Pakistani and French Aircraft

Last month, US magazine Forbes suggested that Iraq is likely to combine Pakistani and French combat aircraft to support its air fleet.

The magazine pointed out that Iraq has been seeking to acquire 12 JF-17 Thunder aircraft of Pakistani origin since 2021, in addition to 14 Rafale aircraft of French origin.

Pakistani newspaper News International reported the completion of a deal between Iraq and Islamabad to acquire JF-17 Block 3 fighters after more than two years of negotiations.

Iraqi media also reported Baghdad’s continued interest in purchasing 14 Rafale aircraft from France, as part of a deal that has been under negotiation since 2021.

Iraq’s pursuit of combat aircraft from Pakistan, France, and the United States indicates its interest in achieving a balance in its sources of armament and avoiding reliance on a single country.

Key Points:

  • Iraq is expanding and diversifying its air force fleet with the latest technologies.
  • Joint exercises with Italy focus on enhancing combat readiness and dealing with regional threats.
  • Iraq is in talks with the US to acquire F-16 fighter jets and Bell helicopters.
  • Iraq is considering acquiring JF-17 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan and Rafale aircraft from France.
  • Iraq seeks to balance its sources of armament and avoid relying on a single country.

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