First Iraqi F-16s Arrive at Balad

The first four Iraqi Air Force F-16s ferried to Iraq-proper arrived at Balad AB, Iraq, on July 13, Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported. Due to Iraq’s shaky security situation, Iraqi F-16 pilots are undergoing training with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, where the initial two F-16s were delivered last December. Eight of Iraq’s 36 jets on order are slated for delivery to Tucson, where one was already lost in a fatal crash in June. US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Iraqi pilots flying from Balad could potentially join the coalition fight against ISIS. “Our expectation is that if and when they start flying missions and combat sorties in Iraq, that’s what they’ll be used for … not to contribute to any sectarian issues inside Iraq,” said Kirby in a July 13 briefing. (Kirby transcript.)