WASHINGTON: The United States government has approved the probable sale to Iraq of smart bombs, AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles and other munitions for use on its fleet of 36 F-16 fighter jets in a deal valued at up to $1.95 billion, the US Defence Department announced on Wednesday.
The Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign arms sales, said it notified US lawmakers on Jan 15 about the potential sale to Iraq, which is fighting to regain territory lost to the militant Islamic State group.
Lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale, although such action is rare since weapons deals are carefully vetted before any formal notification.
DSCA said the proposed sale, which also includes technical support, base operations, maintenance and manpower, would require about 400 US government and contractor personnel to live in Iraq through 2020.
It said the deal would contribute to US national security by giving Iraq the additional weapons, munitions, and technical services it needs to maintain the operational capabilities of its fleet of F-16 fighter jets.
“This proposed sale enables Iraq to fully maintain and employ its aircraft and sustain pilot training to effectively protect Iraq from current and future threats,” it said in a statement about the proposed sale.
If approved, key contractors for the sale would include Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Co, and United Technologies Corp, it said.
DSCA said Iraq had requested 20 Joint Helmet Mounting Cueing Systems, 24 AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles built by Raytheon, 150 AGM-65D Maverick missiles, also built by Raytheon, 14,120 500-pound general purpose bombs, 2,400 2,000-pound general purpose bombs and over 8,000 laser-guided tail kits to add precision targeting to those bombs.
The agency said the value of the major defense equipment in the deal was around $550 million, with the remainder to go for logistics, training and other personnel costs.