With a defense budget of $5.2 billion in 2023 and a total defense spending of $27.3 billion in the forecast period, according to the “Iraqi Defense Market 2023-2028” report issued by GlobalData, Iraq aims to strengthen its defense capabilities in light of regional instability and the resurgence of ISIS.
Iraq is making strides in modernizing its air force as part of its military reform programme.
Buying fighters is a priority
Iraq prioritizes the acquisition of modern military equipment to enhance its defense capabilities and address regional instability and the growing threat of ISIS.
In line with this objective, Iraq recently concluded a contract with Dassault Aviation for the purchase of 14 Rafale aircraft. The $3.2 billion allocation for this contract is intended to replace the country’s aging F-16IQs, which have proven difficult to maintain.
Notably, the Iraqi government has proposed paying for the new aircraft with oil supplies rather than cash, highlighting the country’s unique approach to financing defense acquisitions.
In addition to the Rafale deal, Iraq has also expressed interest in purchasing 24 AT-6C Texan II aircraft from the Pakistan Aviation Complex and 12 JF-17 Block 3 fighter jets from Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.
The JF-17 Block 3 is a medium weight all-weather jet that can be equipped with fourth-generation air-to-air missiles such as the short-range PL-10 and PL-15 beyond visual range.
Estimated contract allocation for the Texan II is $693.8 million, while the JF-17 Block III has been approved for $664 million. These acquisitions will enhance the capabilities of the Iraqi Air Force, allowing for enhanced operational effectiveness and a more robust defense posture.