Iraq will enter into a new phase of "intense negotiations" over a possible acquisition of Aero Vodochody L-159 advanced light combat aircraft, says the Czech Republic government.

A delegation of Iraqi officials, headed by prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, visited Aero Vodochody's Odolena Voda site on 12 October, the day after al-Maliki met with Czech counterpart Petr Nečas in Prague.

"The discussion focused mainly on L-159 aircraft," says Aero Vodochody, which has previously manufactured 72 of the type for the Czech air force. "The Iraqi government have already expressed a serious interest in buying Czech jet fighters several times, and this visit was a part of long-lasting negotiations."

 L-159 - Aero Vodochody

Aero Vodochody

Talks have previously been based on the sale of about 24 L-159s, deemed surplus to requirements and placed into storage by the Czech air force.

"We are fully committed to fulfil and even exceed all the requirements and expectations of the Republic of Iraq," says Aero Vodochody president Ladislav Šimek. The company had previously hoped to finalise a deal - which local media estimates will be worth about $1 billion - before the end of 2011.

Iraq has previously operated the Czech company's L-29 and L-39 trainers.

Source: Flight International