Huge US-Iraq arms deal on the horizon
WASHINGTON - The United States plans to sell nearly $1 billion worth of warplanes, armored vehicles and surveillance aerostats to Iraq.
The deal includes 24 AT-6C Texan II light-attack aircraft, a turboprop plane manufactured by Beechcraft that has .50 caliber machine guns, advanced avionics and can carry precision-guided bombs, the Pentagon said.
The aircraft and related equipment and services are valued at $790 million.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress on Tuesday of the planned sale, which will go ahead unless lawmakers block the deal.
"The proposed sale of these aircraft, equipment and support will enhance the ability of the Iraqi forces to sustain themselves in their efforts to bring stability to Iraq and to prevent overflow of unrest into neighboring countries," the agency said in a notice.
The sale is the latest in a series of US weapons deals with Iraq as Baghdad seeks to bolster its armed forces amid rising violence linked to Al-Qaeda militants and sectarian divisions between the Shiite-led government and disgruntled Sunnis.
Iraq has previously agreed to purchase 36 US F-16 fighter jets.
This week's deal also included 200 "up-armored" Humvee vehicles with machine gun mounts, worth $101 million.
The vehicles will help "Iraq's ability to defend its oil infrastructure against terrorist attacks," the agency said.
And Iraq purchased seven aerostats, airships or tethered balloons that rely on a buoyant gas, to provide surveillance for military installations and key infrastructure, it said.
The aerostats and deployment towers were worth about $90 million.