Iraq, an agreement with the US for the purchase of 24 AH-64 E Apache helicopters

Iraq, an agreement with the US for the purchase of 24 AH-64 E Apache helicopters

It's a 6-billion-dollar deal: the aircrafts will be used for counter-terrorism missions and oil pipeline surveillance

The Boeing AH-64 E Apache played a leading role in the Iraq War of 2003, one of the scourges of the defence in the Iraq territory. Today, it may move to its historic enemyís side, thanks to an agreement between Washington and Baghdad that is still being refined.

The contract concerns 24 attack helicopters, which should add up to the Iraqi Armed Forcesí fleet. A two-round deal worth 6 billion dollars (4.8 billions in the first round, 1.2 in the second). On January 27th, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (which also deals with foreign military sales) notified the American Congress of the importance of the deal: "The proposed sale will support the US strategic interests, providing Iraq with an acute capacity of self-defense from terrorist and conventional threats. The proposed sale will also improve the security of petroleum facilities and strengthen Iraq territorial sovereignty".

The aircrafts will be used for Close Air Support, Armed Reconnaissance and Anti-tank warfare. Furthermore, in the second part of the deal, President Talabaniís government has asked for 12 APG-78 Longbow fire control radars (produced by Northrop Grumman) and 480 AGM-114R Hellfire air-to-surface missiles (Lockheed Martin), as well as for logistic and training support.

By signing the deal, the Iraqi Armed Forces would have a fleet of extremely high-skilled attack helicopters. Apart from the Apaches, last year Baghdad also signed an agreement with Russia for the purchase of 12 Mil Mi-28 Havoc helicopters, the AH-64 Eís main rival, which are primarily used by the Russian Armed Forces.

With the arrival of the new Apaches, the number of foreign military sales in the post-Saddam era would increase more and more. Since the end of the totalitarian regime back in 2003, Iraq has signed several deals for the purchase of a large number of aircrafts, from the F-16C/Ds to the C-130Js for tactical transport, up to the T-6As for training.