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Iraq is quietly continuing negotiations to buy 18 F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth production centre, according to the defence Security Cooperation Agency.Paul J. Ebner, public affairs officer for the agency, told Business Insider in an email, “A Letter of Offer and Acceptance is expected to be presented to the Government of Iraq in Aug. At that time the Iraqi government will have the opportunity to accept the LOA or not.”
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Bloomberg Tuesday that a lack of funds was still preventing the Iraqi government from seeking to procure the fighter jets. However, a spokesman for U.S. Forces-Iraq told the WSJ that Iraq expressed new interest in the deal after reaping as much as $10 billion in unexpected oil revenue.
The Iraqi government came close to signing a deal with the US for 18 F-16 jets at a price tag of up to $4.2 billion last year, but ultimately backed down in order to utilise its funds elsewhere.
The WSJ report also indicated that Oman may also have entered into new talks for F-16 jets.
Iraq has long expressed a desire to rebuild its military, particularly with the possible departure of the remaining 46,000 American troops December 31. Prime Minister al-Maliki has not yet decided whether to ask the U.S. to keep some troops in the country after the end of year.
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