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Looking to build its modern post-Saddam air force, Iraq has finalised a deal with the U.S. to buy 18 new F-16s.According to The Wall Street Journal, Iraq has yet to make a formal announcement, but has already made an initial $1.5 billion payment.
The State Department and the Pentagon are withholding comment on the deal until Baghdad makes its announcement to the Iraqi people.
Iraq intended to buy the planes earlier this year, but withheld the purchase in the wake of the Arab Spring protests.
These 18 jets are to be just the first instalment of a 36 fighter package, still pending U.S. approval.
Washington believes the deal will counter Iran’s aggression in Iraq and secure long-term ties with Baghdad once U.S. troops pull out later this year.
The advanced Block 52 F-16s will be made at Lockheed Martin’s Ft. Worth manufacturing plant.
The original deal called for the 18 planes to be sold at $4.2 billion, including training, and weaponry.
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