UPDATED WITH VIDEO | The Iraqi Air Force is finally getting its long-awaited Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat jets. The first four Vipers were first spotted making a stop-over at Lajes on the Azores, an island owned by Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean, en route to Balad Airbase in their new homeland. They arrived there on 13 July.
It is a small little success for Baghdad in a play that never seem to end. And much needed after one of their generals crashed an F-16 last month on a night training flight in Arizona.
At least four other Iraqi Air Force F-16C/Ds – dubbed F-16IQ – remain operational at Tuscon International Airport, since Iraqi flight and ground crew training started there on 16 December 2014. Fearing use of the weapons against its own population – like what happened in the past against the Kurds – or having the jets falling into the hands of ISIS or Iran the US has downgraded the F-16s somewhat and doesn’t allow Iraq to have the most modern weapon technology on their new Vipers.
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) 10 juli 2015
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) 13 juli 2015
With the first multi-role combat jets for Iraq since the 2003 American-led invasion, the successively toppling of then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and successively destruction of the Iraqi military, the Air Force of the strategically located and large Southwest Asian nation finally seems to slowly grow up again. Balad Airbase has been waiting for the F-16s for more than a year now.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): One of the first two Iraqi Air Force F-16Ds at Tucson International Airport on 16 December 2014 (Image © Jordan Castelan / USAF)