Iraq Acquires Second-hand Russian Combat Jets

The first batch of second-hand Su-25 ground-attack jets that the Iraqi government ordered from Belarus and Russia to help it fight back the Islamist militant force threatening the country arrived in Baghdad, reported Al Jazeera on Sunday. The five airplanes reached the Iraqi capital on June 28, and Iraqi officials said they expected the jets to be ready for use within three to four days of arrival, reported BBC on Sunday. Their arrival came just days after Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki criticized his country’s deal to obtain new-build F-16 fighters from the United States, charging that the process has been “long winded” and prevented Iraq from having the airpower in place to thwart the Islamist invasion. Pentagon spokesman Navy Cdr. William Speaks told Air Force Magazine on June 27 there had been no delay in the agreed-to schedule for delivery of the Iraqi F-16s. There’s also been no indication from the Iraqi government that it does not want to proceed with the deal, he said. The first two F-16s have “long been scheduled” for a fall delivery date, said Speaks. (See also Kirby transcript.)