US approves sale of huge arsenal of attack jet munitions to Iraq
WASHINGTON - The United States has approved the sale of almost $2 billion worth of bombs and missiles to equip Iraq's squadron of F-16 attack jets in their battle against jihadist rebels.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said 400 American government staff and contractors would work in Iraq until at least 2020 to maintain the arsenal and train Iraqi pilots and ground crew.
"This proposed sale enables Iraq to fully maintain and employ its aircraft and sustain pilot training to effectively protect Iraq from current and future threats," it said.
The sale of the 36 jets had been previously announced, but the $1.95 billion arms package confirms that the Iraqis will have access to modern smart bombs and missiles.
US military advisors, special forces and contractors are already working alongside Iraqi and coalition units in the battle against the Islamic State jihadist group.
The sale approved this week includes 24 Sidewinder and 150 Maverick missiles for each jet. Some 16,000 bombs will be delivered, along with laser and satellite guidance kits.
Each jet will be fitted with an M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon.
US engineering giants Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will be the primary suppliers of the gear and training, along with other US groups and the Royal Jordanian Air Academy.