Lockheed Martin Handing Over First Iraqi F-16

Lockheed Martin on Thursday is slated to deliver the first of 36 F-16s it is building for Iraq. Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Lukman Faily is scheduled to attend the June 5 delivery ceremony at the company’s production plant in Fort Worth, Texas, reported Reuters. The ceremony is “largely symbolic,” said Lockheed Martin spokesman Mark Johnson. That’s because it won’t be until “later this year” that the first three or four Iraqi F-16s actually make the journey to Iraq, he told Air Force Magazine on June 4. Iraq ordered its first batch of 18 F-16 Block 52 aircraft in November 2011 under a foreign military sales arrangement with the United States. The Iraqis later placed a second order for an additional 18 jets as part of their efforts to rebuild and modernize the Iraqi air force. The Iraqi F-16 orders extend Lockheed Martin’s production line “through 2017,” said Johnson. He said all of the first 18 airplanes would be delivered “near the end of 2015 [or] early 2016,” followed by the second batch of 18. (See First Iraqi F-16 Takes Off.)