France has offered to sell 18 Mirage F1 retrofitted fighters to Iraq for $1bn as part of the comprehensive military air programme, French ambassador Boris Boillon has said.

“France has proposed to sell 18 Mirage F1 retrofitted aircraft that can be delivered from late 2011 and be immediately operational because many Iraqi pilots were trained in the past on this type of plane,” he added.

Iraqi Government spokesman Ali-al Dabbagh said the nation welcomed any offer to build its air force.

“Any origin of high quality with a good offer will be welcomed, taking into consideration that we need to unify the source of arming if they fulfil Iraq’s requirements,” he said.

Iran is also negotiating a deal with the US to buy 18 US-built F-16 fighter jet aircraft.

The nation’s air force was destroyed during and after the US-led invasion in 2003, according to Agence France Presse.