U.S. Providing Drones and Missiles to Aid Iraq in Terror FightGopal Ratnam
The U.S. is providing Iraq with helicopters, missiles and surveillance drones to help the country counter an increase in terrorist bombings, a State Department official said today.
The U.S. recently delivered a batch of Hellfire missiles and is planning to supply ScanEagle surveillance drones in accordance with the 2008 bilateral Strategic Framework Agreement between the two countries, the State Department official said speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss details of arms sales.
The U.S. also donated a batch of aerostat surveillance balloons in September, the official said. The sale of Hellfire missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp., and ScanEagle drones made by Boeing Co. are under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, the official said. Congress wasn’t notified of the sales because the value fell below $15 million, which is the threshold for notification, the official said.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been battling terrorist bombings and other attacks that have killed more than 6,000 people this year. At a White House meeting in November with Maliki, President Barack Obama said helping Iraq battle extremists “is something we want to work on.”
The U.S. has condemned attacks carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, a branch of the al-Qaeda. The group “is a common enemy” of the U.S. and Iraq, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a Dec. 22 statement.
The U.S. has proposed selling Iraq a variety of military equipment including 50 Stryker armored vehicles made by General Dynamics Corp. valued at $900 million and 36 F-16 jets made by Lockheed Martin and valued at about $6.5 billion.
The sale of ScanEagle drones and Hellfire missiles was first reported by the New York Times.