In a move aimed at improving the national security of a strategic partner, the US State Department has approved a foreign military sale (FMS) to the Government of Iraq. 

Valued at $300m, this sale encompasses Bell Helicopter contracted logistics support (CLS) and related equipment. The decision has implications for Iraq’s defence capabilities and the ongoing partnership between the two nations.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) officially delivered the requisite certification to Congress on 2 November 2023. 

Iraq’s request encompasses a range of services intended to be added to an existing FMS case that was previously valued at $28m and fell under the congressional notification threshold. The additional services comprise CLS and field service representative maintenance support for multiple Bell aircraft, including three 407 variants, 206B3, OH-58A/C Kiowa, Huey II, and 505.

This package also includes US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, as well as studies and surveys, aligning with Iraq’s aim to enhance its defence capabilities against current and future threats.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency highlights that the proposed sale will have no adverse impact on the region’s military balance, assuring neighbouring nations.

Bell Helicopter Company, based in Fort Worth, TX, is set to be the principal contractor for this endeavour, with no known offset agreements accompanying the sale.

This year, Bell Textron secured a $22.5m contract to provide 24 months of in-country aircraft maintenance for eight UH-1Y and four AH-1Z helicopters, along with 36 months of in-country contractor engineer services for the Czech Republic. 

The execution of this sale will necessitate the deployment of four additional US government or contractor representatives to Iraq for one year to support CLS for Bell 505 aircraft. Concurrently, there will be an extension of the presence of seven US government or contractor representatives for an additional two years to provide support for CLS and FSR service support for the three 407 variants, 206B3, OH-58A/C, and Huey II aircraft.

Iraq is accelerating its air force modernisation efforts, signalling a positive step in enhancing its defence capabilities amid regional instability and the resurgence of ISIS. With a defence budget of $5.2bn in 2023 and a forecast total defence spending of $27.3bn, Iraq aims to prioritise air procurement to address these security concerns. 

This FMS is poised to strengthen Iraq’s homeland defence, with the State Department affirming that the Republic of Iraq will have no difficulty absorbing these services into its armed forces.

Iraq’s diplomatic initiatives with Western nations, including the United States and South Korea, support its modernisation efforts and enable access to essential military technologies and expertise.