Iraq: Looking for French drones and fighter planes, as well as more Russian tanks

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Iraq IraqIraq’s military is looking for a variety of defensive equipment, including French Rafale fighter planes, drones, and artillery, as well as Russian T-90 tanks, with some continuing talks nearing a conclusion.

“France has offered to supply 20 drones; the Iraqi [Ministry of Defense] is presently doing technical study,” Norman Ricklefs, the founder of geopolitical consulting firm NAMEA Group and a former consultant to Iraq’s interior minister and the MoD secretary general, told Defense News.

In the near future, an Iraqi delegation will visit France to evaluate the drones. Ricklefs, who recently met with Iraqi defense officials about the purchase plans, said no deal for the drones has yet been signed. He expects the delegation to “conduct a quality check” on the unmanned systems at this stage. Several requests for comment on the visit, as well as the types and numbers of aircraft that would be supplied, were unanswered by the French Armed Forces Ministry.

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The leader of the country’s ground forces revealed the discussions to buy French drones in a January interview with the Iraqi News Agency. “Iraq is negotiating a number of contracts, including armed drones capable of flying for 30 hours in Iraqi airspace, addressing targets, and continually monitoring various locations,” stated Lt. Gen Qasim Al-Muhammadi.

Iraq is also negotiating for Pakistani UAVs, according to Ricklefs. “Pakistan has also offered to sell Iraq 20 drones,” he told Defense News, “but the MoD is currently assessing the offer.” “There are plans to raise the number of tanks, divisions, and brigades in order to strengthen the capabilities of the Iraqi Army,” Al-Muhammadi stated in the interview.

Ricklefs stated that the Ministry of Defense is looking for more T-90 tanks from Russia, having previously placed an order for 73 in 2016. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense reported in June 2018 that the 35th Brigade of the 9th Division received 39 T-90S tanks as part of the order’s first batch. According to the ministry, this brigade was armed with M1 Abrams tanks, but they were transferred to the 34th Brigade once the T-90 was delivered.

“Excellent artillery systems with exceptional precision, as well as weapon systems fitted with night goggles, will be imported from France,” Al-Muhammadi stated in the interview. “Iraq has signed a number of contracts to acquire equipment, some of which have already arrived at the national port and others are still in the works.”

He stated “a strong desire to create Iraqi weaponry, and there are programs that have already been initiated to enable us to produce systems ourselves” in terms of local production. “There is rivalry between the East and the West to demonstrate the capabilities of their systems,” he continued. “As armed forces, we promote weapons source diversity.”

“The Iraqi Air Force plans to buy 14 French Rafale fighter planes for $240 million in oil rather than cash,” Ricklefs told Defense News. He also stated that the Air Force is close to acquiring Super Mushshak fighter/trainer aircraft, but he was unable to offer any other information.

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