The Iraqi Air Force is the latest customer for the venerable viper. A total of 18 airframes was ordered in 2011, although that number could still rise in the coming years. In October of 2012 a first follow-on buy of another 18 airframes was announced bringing the total on 36 jets so far.
In September of 2008 the Iraqi government first expressed an interest in buying up to 36 advanced F-16s to reduce its reliance on US air power and potentially allow more American forces to withdraw from the country according the US military.
In the following months, this order was more then once written in some dedicated press, but since early 2009 everything went silent about this acquisition. Finally, in March of 2010 the Iraqi government formally requested 24 F-16C/D fighters from the US. Iraq made it clear that it want's up to 96 fighters in the end.
IqAF F-16D block 52 #1601
is coming in for landing at NAS
Fort Worth on May 14th, 2014 after performing a testflight. [Photo by Carl Richards]
In 2011 a final order for 18 airframes was announced. It is anticipated that they will consist of 12 C-models and 6 D-models. This order should make it possible for the Iraqi Air Force to defend some of the country for themselves instead of relying on Coalition forces to act on that behalf. Althoug no-one is convinced that this small fighter force will be able to support this mission over the entire territory. Further orders in the future would seem relevant in order to strengthen the Iraqi fighter force.
Right after the closure of the first contract it was announced that Iraq already made a request for another batch of 18 F-16s on December 12th, 2011. This deal was finally concluded in October of 2012 with another batch of 18 F-16s to be acquired. These jets have the same configuration as the first 18 airframes and should be delivered before 2018. Division between C-models and D-models is the same as in the previous order, being 12 C's and 6 D's.
Modifications & Armament
Goodrich DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system
Iraq has selected Goodrich Corporation's DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system for use on F-16 fighters. A total of 4 systems was ordered in 2012 in a $71.45 million program.
The DB-110 digital, real-time, tactical reconnaissance system allows pilots to capture images day or night using electro-optical sensor technology.The camera is enclosed in a 19ft (6m) pod mounted on the underside of an aircraft. Images are fed in real time into a ground station. The camera itself can be easily directed via receiver units situated within the pod to focus in on a particular area.
Imagery is viewed on the F-16's cockpit video display, enabling the navigator to verify targets and conduct tasks such as battle damage assessment. The Polish F-16s will be the first Fighting Falcons to be outfitted with this technology.