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Iraq Forces ‘Very Close’ to Signing F-16 Request, U.S. Says

Iraq is "very close" to signing a letter of intent to buy up to 36 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 jets, said the senior U.S. Air Force general in that country.

Major General Russ Handy told reporters at the Pentagon that Iraq would buy a first installment of 18 aircraft, with a potential total of 36.

“These are very modern aircraft,” Handy, commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Iraq, said. “They should have fairly modern capabilities. It’s a multi-role fighter.”

The best case for first delivery is late 2013, he said.

The agreement is awaiting signature of a formal “letter of offer and acceptance” that signals an Iraqi government commitment to purchase a specified number of aircraft, the cost and payment schedule, Handy said. “We are hearing very encouraging words.”

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