The Iraqi Air Force (IQAF) has taken delivery of the first F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcon aircraft from Lockheed Martin during a ceremony at the latter’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US.
A total of 36 F-16 C/D Block 52 fighters were ordered by Iraq from Lockheed in September 2011 and October 2012, to help rebuild its air force.
Awarded by the US Department of Defense (DoD), the multi-billion dollar contracts also cover the provision of mission equipment and a support package by Lockheed and other US and international contractors.
The newly delivered aircraft is armed with four AIM-9L/M heat-seeking air-to-air missiles, two AGM-65 Maverick missiles, as well as a Lockheed-built AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod, reported Flightglobal.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice-president Orlando Carvalho said the company is playing a role in the defence of a new democracy and looks forward to strengthen its partnership with Iraq.
"Iraq joins 27 other nations around the world who depend on the F-16 Fighting Falcon to maintain peace and security," Carvalho said.
Iraq national security adviser Falih Al-Fayyadh was quoted by Star-Telegram as saying that the F-16 will be ‘a weapon in the hands of all the people’ to safeguard the new republic and its constitution.
The F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft is an upgraded variant of F-16, featuring improved cockpit avionics, radars and all-weather capability with beyond-visual-range (BVR) AIM-7 and AIM-120 air-air missiles.
Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F-100-GE-129 turbofan engine, the F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter, designed initially as an air superiority day fighter, but later evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft for accurate delivery of ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions.
A batch of three or four F-16 aircraft is scheduled to be handed over to Iraq before the end of 2014.
Image: The Iraqi Air Force’s first F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft on display at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US. Photo: © 2014 Lockheed Martin.