After the completion of the first phase of Iraqi pilots training in the United States, the first batch of F-16s aircraft will be delivered to the Iraqi government later this month.
The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has revealed that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel promised in a meeting with the Iraqi government last week that his country would speed up the process of arming the Iraqi military.
Saeed Hadissi, a spokesman for al-Abadi’s office, said that starting this month, the Pentagon will begin the hand over of the F-16s that Baghdad purchased from Washington a few years ago. Iraqi pilots currently training on a US military base will train with the new aircraft.
The F-16s were supposed to be based out of Balad military base in Iraq, but as the Islamic State group overran much of northern Iraq, US contractors preparing the base for the fighters had to be evacuated.
Iraq has purchased 36 F-16s, but the Iraqi pilots have so far trained only on planes in Arizona. They are waiting for the security situation in Iraq to improve to the point that the fighters can be delivered.
In 2011, the Iraqi government ordered 36 F-16s jet fighters from the US. Delivery has been delayed because of the instability currently affecting the region.