Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is pressing the Pentagon to fast-track delivery of the 18 F-16s ordered under an initial foreign military sales deal last September, reports AFP. Al Maliki “called for the acceleration” of equipping the Iraqi military “in a way that makes it able to defend Iraq, and its sovereignty, and independence,” states the news wire service’s July 16 report, citing a statement from the prime minister’s office. Under the original schedule, the Iraqis were on tap to receive their first F-16s around late 2013. The AFP report does not provide a new target delivery date. Al Maliki stressed that Iraq’s intent is not aggression, but the country would “reject anyone transgressing upon us or infringing on our sovereignty,” states AFP. Iraq is looking to acquire 36 F-16 Block 52 airplanes from the United States under FMS arrangements.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.