Iraq’s military wants to buy 36 F-16 fighter planes from the US in an effort to cut its dependence on American air power, the Wall Street Journal reports. The multi-billion-dollar purchase could speed the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, but neighboring nations may worry about the presence of such powerful weaponry in a still-shaky country.
Lockheed Martin’s F-16s would be the most advanced weapons Iraq has yet bought. The request for the planes “represents yet another reflection of Maliki's growing confidence in his government and the Iraqi security forces,” says an analyst. But the deal would require a learning period for Iraqi pilots and could spark concerns about the weapons falling into the wrong hands, the Journal notes.