The office of the commander in chief of the armed forces announced on Sunday that Iraq is to receive its first batch of F16 fighters in 2014 and that the armament programme is going accordingto plan.
Iraqi pilots trained in the United States will be qualified to fly the latest technology in the weapons industry.
The spokesperson, Colonel Diaa el-Wakiel, said that Iraq stipulated during the purchase deal that the aircrafts should be equipped with the latest technology, stating that Iraq will use these fighters in defence and not as an aggressive weapon.
President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani announced on April 23, 2012 that he had called on the US Congress to cancel the F16 aircraft deal with Iraq.
“We were not afraid of the MiG and Mirage aircraft, and we will not be fear the F16 aircraft” Barzani said in a speech in the Kurdish regional capital Erbil, referring to the air force of executed dictator Saddam Hussain who was overthrown in a 2003 US-led invasion.
“But we do fear that the culture which believes the language of the fighter plane, the tank and the cannon is the language to solve problems will return,” he added.
The country's acting security and defence committee accused Barzani of exerting pressure to deprive Iraq of F16 fighter jets, without knowing what kind of guarantees were given to Barzani by America. This is because Washington has contracted with the federal government and not with the region, and Iraq will be armed by America with various types of weapons. Armament is within the jurisdiction of the federal government and not the province or the region.
The Iraqi government announced in 2011 that it had paid the first installment of the F16 aircraft deal, amounting to the purchase 18 aircraft. Iraq seeks to buy 36 aircraft in total.
The United States said on April 13, 2011 that it had agreed to duplicate the number of F16 aircraft to be sold to Iraq, considering that Iraq's decision to do so "is evidence of its progress in ensuring its security and independence."
F16 aircraft are produced by the US General Dynamics group and are exported to around 20 countries. They are the most widely-used fighters in the world.
This armament deal comes within the security agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington at the end of November 2008, which aims to train and equip Iraqi forces.
The relationship between Iraq and the United States is expected to continue during the coming phase through the Strategic Framework Agreement which provides exchange and partnership deals between the two countries in economic, diplomatic, cultural and security fields.