Iraq F-16 Purchase Delayed for Lack of Funds, al-Dabbagh Says

Iraq F-16 Purchase Delayed for Lack of Funds, al-Dabbagh
A Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 fighter jet flies at the Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Iraq isn’t currently seeking to buy U.S. F-16 fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp. because it lacks the funds to rebuild its air force, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

“Iraq is determined to rebuild its air power capabilities, but the plan is postponed,” al-Dabbagh said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. “There are no new negotiations by the Iraqi government or the defense ministry,” he said. The defense portfolio is held by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that Iraq has started negotiations to buy U.S. fighter jets

The Iraqi government was close to signing an agreement on the purchase last year before plans were delayed when funds were diverted for food rations and other urgent items, al-Dabbagh said.

“The plan was postponed, but not canceled as we will rebuild our armed forces in the next few years when there will be more liquidity,” the spokesman said.

Iraq requested on Aug. 27, 2008, for information on pricing and availability of 36 U.S. F-16 aircraft, manufactured by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, Vanessa Murray, director of legislative and public affairs at the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, said The plan was revived a few months ago until Iraq’s parliament agreed to divert funds for fighter jets to social programs.

Iraq is struggling to rebuild its army and security forces to end the violence that has engulfed the country since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted the regime of President Saddam Hussein. U.S. troops are due to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year.

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