US and Iraqi Air Force airmen fly in formation during a 2011 training flight with T-6A trainers. More advanced AT-6C models were approved by the Pentagon as part of a nearly $1 billion package of military equipment for Iraq. (Senior Airman Tyler Placie/USAF photo)
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has cleared a nearly $1 billion package of light-attack planes, surveillance aerostats and up-armored Humvees for the Iraqi military.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress Tuesday that the State Department approved the sale.
The largest part of the deal is 24 Beechcraft AT-6C Texan II attack aircraft. The turboprop aircraft and related services and equipment is estimated to cost $790 million.
“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,” a DSCA notice states.
The AT-6 can carry guided weapons, has advanced avionics and intelligence capabilities. If Iraq goes through with the purchase, it would be a big win for Wichita-based Beechcraft who has been looking for a launch customer for the AT-6 after the US Air Force selected the Embraer Super Tucano for the Afghan Air Force.
Iraq already flies the T-6A trainer. The aircraft are used to train pilots before they move to larger, more sophisticated aircraft. Iraq has already inked a deal to buy 36 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters. The first Iraqi F-16 made its initial flight last week.
The US Defense Department also green-lighted the sale of 200 AM General up-armored Humvees, which is valued at $101 million. The vehicles will be fitted for .50-caliber machine guns, communications gear and training equipment.
The vehicles “would facilitate progress towards increasing Iraq’s ability to defend its oil infrastructure against terrorist attacks,” the DSCA notice states. “Iraq will use the [Humvees] to increase the safety, effectiveness and self-reliance of the Iraqi Army’s Oil Pipeline Security Division.”
DoD also approved a $90 million sale for seven Raytheon aerostats and 14 deployment towers.
The systems would increase “Iraq’s ability to provide protection of national level command and control sites, military installations, and other critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks,” the DSCA notice states.■