The US is sending AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to Iraq in support of the campaign against so-called Islamic State forces. US president Barrack Obama decided to send extra US troops also.
The decision to send Apache means the US will base aircraft in Iraq for the first time since officialy pulling out its military in the troubled country in December 2011. The move comes ahead of a Iraqi military push to recapture the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.
US forces are already in Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers. The added Apaches also bring 200 additional troops, bringing the total of US troops in the country to 4,087.
If the Danish government has its way, Royal Danish Air Force F-16s will rejoin the fight against Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria. Plans were unfolded in Copenhagen on Friday 4 March to send F-16s to the area, along with a C-130 transport aircraft and 400 personnel. The Danish jets already operated over Iraq until October 2015.
The deployment plan comes after initial reports over a supposed lack of appropriate training of Danish F-16 pilots. Also, earlier operations were said to have taken their toll on equipment and people. The Danish operated from Kuwait earlier, using seven F-16s.
France and the US requested the support of the Danes again in fighting Islamic State or Daesh forces in Iraq and Syria. A parliamentary vote on the issue is expected in the first half of April.
Dutch and Belgian F-16s were also involved in combat missions before. Currently, only Dutch F-16s remain in theatre. Their mission will end in October, with Belgian F-16s returning to take their place.
The Dutch goverment on Friday formally approved F-16 operations against Daesh forces in Syria. Since October 2014, Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) jets are already involved in offensive flights over Iraq.
Until this week, one of two Dutch government parties was opposed to actions over Syria, saying there was no international mandate for military actions over the country. Recent terrorist attacks in Paris in Jakarta changed the party’s point of view however.
Four RNLAF F-16s operate from Jordan, with two more in reserve. Their participation is supposed to end later this year, with Belgian F-16s taking their place.
Fighter jet deals worth billions of US dollars hang in the balance in the Middle East as they have been doing for a number of years, but things could be moving along now following the apparent ease between Iran and the West. Or did Kuwait and Qatar already make up their mind?
It is no secret that Kuwait is looking to purchase 28 Boeing Super Hornets to replace its fleet of older F/A-18C/D Hornets, and that Qatar has been seeking to buy up to 72 variants of Boeing’s F-15 Strike Eagle.
Both orders would come in handy to keep production lines in the US open, particularly the Super Hornet line. A batch of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) EA-18 Growlers is now in manufacturing and after that it will likely be the end of production for the F-18 Hornet and its variants.
Unless of course Kuwait indeed orders its Super Hornets. A deal never seemed close however, and the reason could very well be that the US did not want to spoil improving relations with shia-Islam orientied Iran by supplying advanced warfare machines to opposing sunni countries such as Qatar and Kuwait.
That standpoint may change now that the relationship with Iran seems on its way to normalization. On the other hand however, there’s also Israel to be taken into account. That country upgrading its F-15I Ra’am (Thunder) jets and won’t be very happy to see more Arab states getting similar capabilities, also considering the fact that Saudi Arabia already has an impressive fleet of F-15s – and another 84 new-build F-15SAs (Saudi Advanced) are on their way between now and 2019. The US may be sensitive to this also.
The coming months should tell if there will ever be Qatari F-15s and Kuwaiti Super Hornets. And finally, if there will ever be Iraqi Air Force Mirage 2000s, as the United Arab Emirates are reportedly looking to hand over some of their Mirages to Baghdad.
The US has approved an Iraqi request for weapons for its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s. The request and subsequent approval gives more insight into the capabilities Iraqi Air Force F-16 should offer in the near future, for example in the fight against Daesh forces. For a long time, the US was hesitant to even allow the F-16s to be delivered to Iraq in fear of Islamic rebels taking over the country.
The approval concerns twenty Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), 24 AIM-9M Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, 150 AGM-65D Maverick air-to-ground missiles, no less than 14,120 500lb General Purpose (GP) guided or unguided bombs, 2,400 similar 2,000 lb GP bombs, plus 8,400 Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) Paveway tail kits. Support, training and maintenance are included in the contract as well.
The Iraqi Air Force is to gain a considerably strike capability if it indeed pushes ahead with the purchase at an estimated cost of The estimated cost is 1.95 billion USD.
The first of 36 Iraqi F-16s flew for the first time on 7 May 2014. The first batch of aircraft was first send to Tucson, Arizona, for training. In reality, the US wasn’t eager to send the aircraft to Iraq as the country – or at least the airbase the F-16s were planned to go – was on the verge of being overrun by Daesh forces.
In July 2015, the first four aircraft finally arrived in Iraq. Two more follow this January.