July 14, 2015 (by Asif Shamim) - The Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced the delivery of the first four of thirty plus F-16s from the USA on Monday, The aircraft arrived at Balad Air Base, 45 miles North of Baghdad.
IqAF F-16C block 52 #1611 is coming in for landing on runway 18 at NAS Fort Worth on June 11th, 2015. [Airfighters.com
photo by Brandon Thetford]
A ceremony was held at the base which was attended by the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, the countries National Security Adviser and other dignitaries. Commander of the Air Force General Anwar Hamad Amin had stressed that the new F-16 warplanes would play a role in the fight against IS in Iraq
The US Government also confirmed the delivery. Brett McGurk, US President Barack Obama's deputy envoy for the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) confirmed the arrival via social media.
The delivery of the F-16s had been delayed because security concerns related to the ongoing conflict with IS forces which are battling government troops. Security being a top concern made in non viable to have US contractor at the airbase to support the introduction of the new aircraft.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby has said the US would help the Iraqi government to prevent the jets from ending up in the hands of the terrorists.
“Of course we're concerned about the security situation on the ground, and not just with respect to aircraft, but any other equipment that could be damaged … by IS,” he said during a press briefing.
The more sophisticated F-16 planes received on Monday are expected to enhance the Iraqi Air Force's capacity but, with foreign aircraft also taking on IS since last year, the delivery is not seen as a game-changer in the war against IS.