Iraq's efforts to re-equip its armed forces are set to receive a further boost, with Baghdad seeking a purchase of 27 new utility helicopters worth a potential $1.2 billion.

Six aircraft types will be considered under a Foreign Military Sales request outlined by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, with one to be selected in each of the light and medium utility helicopter categories.

Candidates for the former requirement are the AgustaWestland AW109, Bell 429 and EADS North America UH-72A Lakota (based on the Eurocopter EC145), with the DSCA outlining a possible 15-aircraft purchase. The AW139, Bell 412 and Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk will contest a deal for 12 medium twins.

In its notification to US Congress on 18 November, the DSCA said the combined deal would also include the provision of spare parts, logistics support and training services. "This proposed sale will advance Iraqi efforts to develop a strong national military and police authority [and] help ensure that Iraq can continue to sustain its democratically elected government," it said.

Baghdad has already signed a deal to acquire 32 Bell 407 helicopters, and placed FMS contracts for 15 Beechcraft T-6A turboprop trainers and six Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports. Its air force has also expressed a desire to eventually field Lockheed F-16 fighters.

Source: Flight International