Iraq has made a down payment of $1.4 billion to the United States on 18 F-16 fighter jets that are intended to protect Iraqi sovereignty when the U.S. is gone. But the planes will not be delivered for years to come, and U.S. forces are required by the status-of-forces agreement to withdraw by the end of December.

The total bill for the F-16s adds up to $3 billion.

Iraq currently operates 158 aircraft. That’s down from the 1,000 once under Saddam Hussein’s command.

Reuters reports that Iraq has limited capabilities to defend its air space, with only 60 percent radar coverage expected after the U.S. leaves. — PZS


The air force wants two more long-range radars to cover more of the north, northwest and west, as well as ground-based air defense systems. Those are years away.

While it waits for its F-16s, the Air Force relies on what Rock called “nascent but credible capabilities” with 69 aircraft including three missile-equipped Cessnas, three reconnaissance Cessnas capable of capturing and downlinking real-time video, as well as C-130E transports, training and other planes.

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