Iraq’s Air Force looks like it’s going to have to make do with Soviet hand-me-downs for the foreseeable future, as the Pentagon says that the escalating violence in the country is likely to further delay the shipments of F-16s.
Iraq ordered F-16s from the US in 2011, and has not gotten any yet. The Pentagon says that contractors at the key Balad air base had to be evacuated because of the ISIS incursions, and that’s slowing the whole process down.
The Maliki government seems to be figuring on this not happening any time soon, and has been scrambling to acquire planes from Russia. On Friday, they ordered Su-25s from Russia, and they were delivered on Sunday. Other, older Soviet-made planes are being sought from Iran, who impounded a large number of Iraqi planes back during the first Gulf War.
Maliki had blamed the lack of warplanes for his country’s recent losses to ISIS, saying if they had an actual Air Force, and not just a couple of Cessna trainers firing US Hellfire Missiles, they might’ve actually slowed the advance of the rebels.