Iraq’s government renewed its interest in procuring F-16 fighters, with Iraqi officials reportedly raising the topic in discussion this week during Air Force Secretary Michael Donley’s visit to Iraq. Donley’s meeting with Iraqi officials “was intended to speed up the implementation of agreements and mechanisms for using F-16 combat planes and observation aircraft and air defense systems,” said an Iraqi defense spokesman on Iraqi television, reported AFP. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki approved negotiations, which were tabled earlier this year, to resume, upping Iraq’s proposed acquisition from 18 to 36 F-16s. “The new contract will be larger than what we agreed earlier to provide security for Iraq,” stated al-Maliki, according to AFP. Donley visited with US airmen and Iraqi defense officials at Forward Operating Base Union III, in Baghdad, Tuesday. Two days before, he was in Afghanistan, meeting with airmen in Kabul. (Baghdad report by SSgt. Edward Daileg)
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.