Iraq has received 18 F16 fighter jets from the United States since 2014. File photo: AFP/ Sabah Arar
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq's Ministry of Defence announced on Thursday that it has received three new F16 aircraft from the United States, bringing the total to 17 since Baghdad signed a nearly $2 billion purchase-deal with Washington in 2014.
The deal was for 36 fighter jets, but Iraq will receive only 34 since two crashed during training of Iraqi pilots in the United States.
The planes arrived at Balad airbase, north of the capital Baghdad, the ministry said in a short statement without giving more detail.
The Kurdistan Region has criticized the Iraqi army for using American-supplied weapons against the Peshmerga in clashes over disputed areas that broke out in Kirkuk on October 16 and subsequently other areas including Pirde, south of Erbil.
The Peshmerga have accused the Iraqi army and the Hashd al-Shaabi of using American-made Abrams tanks, but has not reported the use of American fighter jets in the military standoff.
The media office of the Iraqi Air Force told AFP that they had already received 18 fighter jets and with this new batch they now have 21.
The US-trained F16 pilots, some of whom are Kurds, have already carried out hundreds of airstrikes against ISIS.
The US temporarily postponed the delivery of the planes in 2014 after ISIS took over army installations in Nineveh province. The planes were instead sent to an Arizona air base where Iraqi pilots were being trained to fly the advanced aircraft.
Correction: Rudaw had earlier mistakenly reported the number of fighter jets as four. This now has been changed to three.
Last updated at 9:11 p.m .