Iraq crisis likely to postpone delivery of US F-16 fighters

30 June 2014 (Last Updated June 30th, 2014 18:30)

The US Government is likely to postpone the delivery of F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcon aircraft to Iraq, as the programme contractors had to be relocated from Balad airbase.

Iraq F-16

The US Government is likely to postpone the delivery of F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcon aircraft to Iraq, as the programme contractors had to be relocated from Balad airbase.

The airbase was occupied by Isis militants last month in the wake of the ongoing offensive in Iraq.

US Department of Defense spokesman army colonel Steven Warren said private contractors working on the F-16 programme had to be evacuated from the base, resulting in the delay of aircraft deliveries.

"I don't have a specific timeline for how the relocation of contractors from Balad will affect the delivery of the F-16. It certainly will," Warren said, noting that the Pentagon has not placed any restrictions on the delivery process.

"We are very aware of the critical need that Iraq has for advanced weapons. We are working as quickly as possible to ensure that they receive all of the foreign military sales that they have requested and that they've paid for," he added.

"The US announcement of delay comes just a few days after Russia supplied Sukhoi fighters to Iraq."

Iraq ordered a total of 36 F-16 C/D Block 52 fighters from Lockheed Martin in September 2011 and October 2012, to help rebuild its air force. The first aircraft was delivered in June.

The US announcement of delay comes just a few days after Russia supplied Sukhoi fighters to Iraq. The country has, however, said that Russian supplies have no bearing on the F-16 delays.

Warren said: "The Iraqi purchase of Russian military equipment does not affect the Iraqi purchase of American military equipment. We know the Iraqis have pursued several avenues over the years for the purchasing of military equipment, to include the Czech Republic, South Korea and others."

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is continuing supply of munitions, small-arms weapons and other equipment, such as Hellfire missiles to Iraq, the official added.


Image: The first F-16 aircraft was delivered to Iraq in June at Lockheed's facility in Texas, US. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

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