Three Rafale fighter jets landed at Iraq’s Balad Air Base yesterday ahead of a joint Franco-Iraqi exercise.
This is interesting because it is the first time that French planes have actually landed in Iraq.
In the past they always flew out of Jordan for operations over Iraq or joint flights with their F-16s.
Rafale aircraft on the aforementioned flights were always armed due to their CAS close air support commitment.
Three Rafales landed at Balad yesterday ahead of a joint French-Iraqi exercise. This is interesting because it’s the first time French jets have actually landed in Iraq. In the past they always operated out of Jordan for ops over Iraq or integration flights with their F-16s. pic.twitter.com/jrMFYzIf0j
– Abd Nav (@AbdNav2K2) May 22, 2023
Experts believe that the Iraqi army is interested in Rafale fighters and that it needs a squadron of Rafales because of American harassment and interference in the work of the Iraqi F-16 and the lack of armament and spare parts. The French want to take advantage of the opportunity, especially with the intense competition between the two NATO allies over many military deals around the world, which are often won by the Americans.
The commander of the Iraqi Air Force, Lieutenant General Shihab Jahid Ali, received, in his office, the commander of the joint French forces in the Indian Ocean, Admiral Emmanuel Salaries.
During the meeting, they discussed a number of issues of common interest and ways to enhance military-air cooperation during the coming period, between the two countries, and work on transferring and exchanging experiences and conducting military exercises in a way that achieves the common interest. After that, they headed to the base of the martyr, Brigadier General Al-Tayyar, at Fulaih Air Force Base, to receive the Rafale planes participating in the Ababil-1 exercise.
It is worth noting that the former Iraqi Defense Minister, Juma Inad, said that they had negotiated for Rafale fighters, but the deal failed because of their exorbitant price.