The Castle’s BillT has had quite a role mentoring the nascent Iraqi Air Force in fixed-wing trainers and fling-wing aircraft. The time has just about come for things to get serious (WSJ subscription required):
Iraq has quietly started negotiations to buy U.S. fighter jets and air-defense systems worth billions of dollars, a purchase Washington hopes will help counter Iranian influences and cement long-term ties with Baghdad after American troops pull out.
Baghdad had frozen plans to buy 18 advanced U.S. F-16 fighters earlier this year after the Arab Spring protests in the region turned its attention to internal stability. Now, senior U.S. and Iraqi officials said Iraq is considering raising its purchase to as many as 36 of the jets.The decision by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to renew the F-16 talks follows an unexpected surge in government oil revenue, and comes as a Dec. 31 deadline approaches for the departure of the 46,000 remaining U.S. troops from Iraq…
The original deal between the U.S. and Iraq for 18 F-16s, which was clinched last fall, had a potential price of up to $4.2 billion, including parts, spares, training and related weaponry.
If Iraq decides to buy a total of 36 planes, the equivalent of two squadrons, the deal could cost billions of dollars more than the original amount, depending on negotiations with Lockheed Martin. That doesn’t include air-defense upgrades, which could add further billions to the bill.
That’s going to require significant training, and it’s a pretty good bet that some of that training will be undertaken by contractors in country – especially if the Iraqi government declines to un-ass themselves over a Status of Forces Agreement after December of this year. I’ve got about 400 hours of F-16 time, almost exclusively air-to-air. And over 4000 hours of strike fighter time.
And no. I don’t want that job.