As Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant rampage through northern Iraq and threaten Baghdad, the United States is considering a range of military options to assist the Iraqi government. However, there’s been no decision yet whether to try to accelerate delivery of Iraq’s first batch of new-build F-16s to bolster the nation’s ability to strike back at the insurgents from the air. “Clearly we are facing a fluid situation on the ground at the moment” in Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Navy Cdr. Bill Speaks told Air Force Magazine on June 17. “It’s simply too soon to say how, or if, the current ISIL offensive will affect delivery timelines for Iraq’s F-16s,” he said. Iraq took ceremonial delivery of its first F-16 on June 5 at Lockheed Martin’s aircraft production plant in Fort Worth, Texas. But, at the time, the first batch of Iraqi F-16s was not expected to fly to Iraq until later this year. Speaks said the delivery of the first Iraqi F-16s is pending final preparations for housing and securing the aircraft, completion of pilot training, and the conclusion of “financial and administrative details.” Iraq has 36 F-16 on order.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.