Iraq Wants US to Sell It 36 F-16s Expanded deal is under discussion By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Jul 12, 2011 8:58 AM CDT 22 comments Comments An F-16 fighter jet is shown. (Getty Images) (Newser) – As the Dec. 31 US troop withdrawal deadline looms, Iraq is looking to purchase as many as 36 US fighter jets and other air-defense systems. The purchase, which will cost billions, could help cement ties between Iraq and the US and, Washington hopes, keep Iran at bay. The move comes after Baghdad froze plans to buy 18 F-16s earlier this year, due to the Arab Spring unrest. That deal had a cost of up to $4.2 billion, which included training, the Wall Street Journal reports. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki renewed the original talks after an unexpected $10 billion surge of oil revenue for his government. If the purchase goes through, the aircraft won't be used immediately; pilots will first need to be trained. Iraq also wants ground-to-air missiles and large guns. US lawmakers are likely to approve the expanded package, but will want to know how the US will ensure no weapons end up in the wrong hands.