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Iraq To Buy Ukrainian Military Equipment Shutting Out U.S. Again

The Iraqi military has been slowly rebuilding since 2003. Much of their funding and equipment has come from the United States and its Allies. Often though the nascent Iraqi Army and Air Force have invested in Russian equipment. This is sensible in a way as the aircraft and weapons are familiar to the Iraq personnel as much of what Saddam possessed was from Russia; although during the Iran-Iraq war he invested in military hardware from across the world.

For example the Air Force has purchased some U.S. equipment such as UH-1 helicopters and C-130 transports. They have also contracted for Bell 407 scout helicopters which are similar to the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior used by the U.S. Army. They have also contracted through the U.S. Government to buy several Mi-17 utility helicopters.

That deal raised some eyebrows in the U.S. Congress as it was felt that Sikorsky and other U.S. companies should have had the chance to supply the aircraft. This was especially so because the U.S. Government was paying for a good chunk of the cost. While it may have been politically incorrect it made sense as many of the Iraqi pilots had flown the aircraft previously and maintenance personnel with experience were also available.

Now Iraq's Government has announced that they will spend over $2 billion on new tanks and other armored vehicles. This contract will also go for Russian developed equipment that is made at a tank plant in the Ukraine. As with previous contracts the majority of the funding will come from U.S. assistance.

Like the helicopter deal it makes sense to invest in this type of hardware. The U.S. has limited capabilities to make new M1 tanks and other heavy armored vehicles. In fact the U.S. has spent the last ten years just upgrading and rebuilding tanks and M2 Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFV) that were made in the Eighties and Nineties. Due to the reduction in size of the U.S. military and a reorganization of the forces there were plenty of these vehicles available. Currently the U.S. is producing Stryker wheeled vehicles for their use. The recently canceled Future Combat System (FCS) would have provided the next generation of advanced armored vehicles.

While again this deal may be criticized for not focusing on U.S. manufactured items rather then switching the Iraqi military over to a Western based force it is most like more efficient to use equipment that is familiar to those soldiers serving and maintaining it. The deal calls for more then just tanks and armored personnel carriers but also six AN-32B short ranged transports. This represents further modernization of Iraq's military.

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