Coming Along: Helicopters from the Iraqi Air Force fly over a parade in 2012. An expert says Iraq's request for air traffic control systems and air base improvements shows it is getting closer to having a fully operational Air Force. (Ali Al-Saadi / AFP/Getty Images)
DUBAI — A proposed foreign military sale to Iraq for air traffic control and landing systems highlights the imminent possibility of a fully operational Iraqi Air Force in the next few years, according to an industry expert.
On Feb. 4, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale to Iraq for Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $700 million.
Matthew Hedges, military analyst for the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said the DSCA notification should be seen in conjunction with other recent messages that not only point to Baghdad’s pending acquisitions but also show that the US will be a key partner in this process.
“Whilst the Iraqi armed forces have already embarked on aerial sorties, the need for more sophisticated mechanisms will help the Iraqis absorb a broader, more advanced fleet,” he said.
According to the DCSA, Iraq has requested a sale of commercially available Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control equipment and airfield navigational aids suites to be installed at four bases — Tikrit, al-Basra, al-Kut and Taji.
The equipment includes airport surveillance radars, automation systems, airfield support and navigation suites, and primary search radars.
Also provided are site surveys, system integration, installation, testing, repair and return, facilities, warranties, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, US government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.
“The strategic positing of the four airfields also directs a message to its neighbors that they are pursuing a defense posture and not one opposed to adjacent regimes,” Hedgessaid.
According to the DCSA, the proposed sale will contribute to Iraq’s continued efforts toward rebuilding its airfield systems for near-term basing of multiple aircraft.
The renovations and upgrades to the airfields and systems will allow for greater ease in launch and recovery of aircraft and will improve the overall sustainment to aircraft and affiliated systems, the agency added.
The principal contractor will be determined through a competitive process. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.■