Iraq’s continuing military transformation could be advanced further, through a potentially $4.8 billion deal for 24 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.
“This proposed sale supports the strategic interests of the United States by providing Iraq with a critical capability to protect itself from terrorist and conventional threats, to enhance the protection of key oil infrastructure and platforms, and to reinforce Iraqi sovereignty,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency says. Its message to Congress was disclosed in a notification published on 27 January.
Expected roles for an Iraqi Apache fleet would include flying “close-air support, armed reconnaissance and anti-tank warfare” missions, according to the DSCA. Baghdad’s request includes 12 Northrop Grumman APG-78 Longbow fire control radars and 480 Lockheed Martin AGM-114R Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, plus training and logistics support.
An Apache acquisition would come on top of the Iraqi army’s previous purchase of the Mil Mi-28 from Russia. Baghdad has signed a firm order for 12 of the type, and has previously shown interest in acquiring a further 28.
Iraq’s defence spending in the post-Saddam Hussein era has included numerous foreign military sales deals with the USA. These have included orders for Lockheed-built F-16C/D and IQ-model fighters and C-130J tactical transports, Beechcraft King Air 350 transport and reconnaissance aircraft and T-6A trainers, plus Cessna 208s in utility, reconnaissance and light-attack configurations.