Sale of $2 billion military equipment to Iraq by the US

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has informed the US Congress of a possible sale of $2 billion worth of military equipment to Iraq, officials said on Friday.

The first includes 12 Bell 412 EP helicopters and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support totaling an estimated $300 million.

The sale would provide the Iraqi army with reliable capabilities for early warning of contamination by radiological, biological, and chemical material, according to the DSCA.

Lawmakers, notified Thursday, have 30 days to raise any objections to the plan, which consists of three contracts.

As with all notifications of such plans, it underscored that the proposed sale would not alter the basic military balance in the region.

In October 2012, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki had asked Washington, whose troops left the country at the end of 2011, to speed up delivery of weapons for Iraqi troops.

Helping Iraq maintain, sustain, and effectively utilize the equipment it has purchased or received from the United States over the past decade is a US priority, the DSCA said.

In December 2011, the United States approved the sale of 36 F-16 fighter jets to Baghdad in a contract worth several billion dollars.

Iraq has put F-16 warplanes acquired from the United States into action against the self styled Islamic State for the first time, the commander of the air force said.

Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi told the news conference that the strikes had achieved important results and that the jets will have an impact on the conduct of operations in the future. Amin told the news conference that the F-16 strikes had taken place in Salaheddin and Kirkuk provinces, north of Baghdad.

Insecurity in Iraq, where IS seized significant territory in June 2014, had delayed the delivery of the jets, with the first batch being sent to Arizona, where Iraqi pilots have been training.

An Iraqi pilot was killed when his F-16 crashed during training in Arizona earlier this year.

F-16 jets are much more sophisticated than other aircraft in Baghdad’s arsenal and will boost Iraq’s capacity for air strikes, which are currently carried out by ageing Sukhoi Su-25 jets, Cessna Caravan turboprop aircraft and various helicopters.

DSCA said Iraq had requested 20 Joint Helmet Mounting Cueing Systems, 24 AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles built by Raytheon, 150 AGM-65D Maverick missiles, also built by Raytheon, 14,120 500-pound general purpose bombs, and 2,400 2,000-pound general purpose bombs and over 8,000 laser guided tail kits to add precision targeting to those bombs.