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Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:28AM
An F-16 fighter jet (file photo)

An F-16 fighter jet (file photo)

Iraq has signed a contract to purchase 18 F-16 multirole fighter jets in line with plans to beef up its air force. Acting Iraqi Defense Minister Sadun Farhan al-Dulaymi said on Thursday that the deal is part of an initial agreement to purchase 36 of the US-made jets to revamp Iraq’s aerial capabilities. “The United States is still arms supplier number one to Iraq and the Ministry of Defense. We also agreed to buy another 18 F-16 fighter jets and they (the Americans) will speed up the delivery of the first 18 (F-16) fighters as soon as possible. There will also be a demand for the purchase of air defense systems and Apache helicopters,” Dulaymi told reporters. He also stated that the contract is “no different from the first contract in terms of the technical and financial details. This handover will be finished in 2018.” Iraq has also concluded military contracts with Russia and the Czech Republic this month as it seeks to build up its air force. MP/HSN