Iraq has signed a contract with Pakistani company to purchase an unspecified number of aircraft, believed to be JF-17 Block III.
“We signed a contract with a Pakistani company to purchase aircraft……….,” Iraqi Defense Minister Jumaa Inad said in a January 30,2022 interview with Al-Arabiya without specifying the aircraft type or the number of units or its price.
Pakistan media had earlier reported that negotiations had been held between Islamabad and Baghdad for the latter to buy 12 JF-17s for an estimated $664 million.
Lieutenant General Juma Inad had earlier visited Pakistan in May 2021 during which he held meetings with Pakistani officials and discussed Iraq’s interest to buy JF-17 Thunder fighter jets.
This was followed up with a visit by Foreign Minister of Iraq Dr. Faud Hussein during August 2021 when he met with Minister of Defence Production of Pakistan, Mrs. Zobaida Jalal. The meeting with the minister of defence production could signal an intent to purchase the PAC JF-17 Thunder and/ or other defence equipment.
Pakistani publication, The Nation had reported on September 15, 2021 that negotiations between Pakistan and Iraq on fighter jets procurement were concluded during the visit of an Iraqi defence delegation led by Deputy Commander Iraqi Air Force Major General (Pilot) Muhammad Majeed Mahdi Mahmood earlier that month.
The JF-17 Thunder was the highlight of a Pakistani participation during a defence exhibition in Baghdad in April 2021.
According to the sources quoted by the newspaper, the defence deal was approved by both the Iraqi and Pakistani governments and a formal agreement is expected to be signed in Islamabad next month. The Iraqi government has approved the amount of 664 million USD for the purchase of 12 fighter aircraft from Pakistan.
Problems with Iraq’s F-16IQ jets
Iraq has been having significant problems maintaining its Iraq has 34 F-16IQ Block 52 fighters obtained from the U.S. Following Washington’s pull-out from Iraq, the jets have had a much lower level of maintenance than required. Some 20 aircraft are in a fly-worthy condition that too lacking in certain crucial armaments such air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.The JF-17 Block III jets, which are the latest iteration of the successful JF-17 could be a welcome addition to the Iraqi Air Force.