The US Air Force is contemplating various options to meet a Iraqi purchase request for F-16 fighter aircraft.

The F-16 is being seen as a key element in fostering US and Iraqi ability to operate together in the future, Reuters reports quoting air force officials.

The sale of new F-16s is one of the possibilities being weighed in an air sovereignty assessment carried out in Baghdad by the US Air Force with Iraqi counterparts.

Another option being explored by the air force is declaring certain retired US Air Force F-16s as excess inventory so that they can be provided to Iraq at little or no initial cost.

The US Air Force’s point person for international affairs Bruce Lemkin said that in this scenario Iraq would then have to pay for refurbishing the aircraft, pilot training, spare parts, building facilities and possibly putting in new engines.

The country initially plans to acquire 18 advanced F-16 models, as a part of Iraq’s arms spending programme.

France, Russia, China and others are the other contenders who will take part in Iraq’s arms acquisition programme list.