Maliki Announces Plans to Purchase 36 F-16 Fighters From US
|July 31, 2011||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
Erbil, (AKnews) – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Iraq would buy 36 F-16 fighters from the US – double the number originally agreed – in order to reinforce its air defense, Reuters reports.
Maliki said that an Iraqi Air Force delegation will travel to Washington to sign a contract for the fighter planes.
“We have to provide Iraq with airplanes to safeguard its sovereignty,” he said.
A prior contract with the US to buy 18 F-16s was cancelled earlier this year when the $900 million necessary to seal the deal was pumped into a food subsidy program to quell a wave of public protests across the country.
The Iraqi Air Force under Saddam Hussein boasted one of the largest air fleets in the region – composed of primarily Soviet-designed air craft – but was disbanded along with the Iraqi military in 2003 following the toppling of the former dictator.
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