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Iraq Continues To Upgrade Its Military

The Government of Iraq is slowly reequipping its military with modern American systems to replace the varied inventory of Russian, French and British equipment that it operated under Saddam Hussein. This currently means rebuilding their air force especailly. To date they have purchased American UH-1 helicopters along with Russian Mi-17's as well as a variety of vehicles. Recently the country announced two major purchases of U.S. aircraft.

First the country announced that they had bought twenty-four Bell 407 scout helicopters. The $60 million contract also has an option for twenty-six more aircraft. The Bell 407 is similar to the U.S. Army's OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. Textron, the parent company of Bell Helicopter, has had a rough period lately and this contract must be good news for them. The company recently sold a unit and their had been rumors that Bell itself would be sold. Bell recently lost the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) contract due to cost and schedule problems.

The U.S. Air Force also announced that it was adding four more C-130J transports to an existing contract with Lockheed for six for Iraq. This option is worth almost $300 million. The total contract if all options are exercise is worth over $1.5 billion. The C-130J is one of the most successful of Lockheed's products over the last decade with sales to the U.S Air Force, Marine Corps and a variety of foreign countries.

As Iraq rebuilds its military and enlarges it to compensate for the departing and British and American troops the market for equipment will grow. This is not just for hardware like weapons, vehicles and aircraft but also C3I systems, radar and air defense systems. The U.S. has focused on building up the ground and security forces, but eventually there will be a requirement for a sophisticated, Western type armed forces. This will require a substantial investment of Iraqi funds.

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