Iraq is rebuilding an Air Force, and this may be good news, but are they not just the laughing end of the deal? Last week came the announcement that the Iraqi Government was to purchase several L-159 advanced trainers and light attack aircrafts. These would be used and coming directly from the Czech Republic Air Force. The Czech Government hopes to sell 24 of the jets, in replacement of the L-39 which has come under increased scrutiny after the recent crashes due to engine failure. The last one to crash was the N°2 Breitling, but there have been more than 10 crashes in 2011 involving the L39. So much so that the Czech Air Force has retired the plane altogether. The L-159 differs from the L-39 as it has a reinforced body, longer nose, and especially much improved communications and systems. The aircraft can be armed with Sidewinder missiles. Also of interest, the jet can be operated from rough airstrips.
This purchase if effective would complete the reinforcement of the Iraqi Air Force which has already confirmed a 42 F-16 purchase with Washington. In essence, Iraq would benefit from a performing air force for a country of its rank, which is close to third world despite the oil. And that is when one can ask the question. Is the purchase truly serious and are they not being laughed at right now by countries forcing sales knowing the aircrafts are not in any way in a position to harm. Looking at the forces in the gulf, with F-15s, F-16s, and the F-35s and F-22s, countless drones, that are and will be positioned in the area and the military basis in the US Friendly countries which are all around Iraq, one must ask, what’s the point? So is it a good idea ? Of course every nation wants to have the means to defend itself, and having an air force sometimes is like demonstrating who has the bigger one as many of the third world countries will endemically purchase aircrafts even though they don’t have the pilots, money to buy the fuel and sometimes not even the runways to accommodate the planes. The F-16 purchase was a great deal for the USA but instead of focusing on the future, the government just bought “old junk”.
Of course, no one asks Iraq to spend billions in purchasing the latest F-22 or F-35. That would be a waste of money and still irrelevant given the context of the Middle East. The Iraqi Government has a chance though to focus on the future and a new sort of defense, empowering more drone technology, which can be more efficient, easier to manage and operate, and very soon, will be able to attack as a traditional jet fighter. Some UAVs already carry weapons, missiles that can pinpoint targets and download their armaments. Military strategy for the long run is a difficult game, but still, is Iraq making the right choice by getting F-16 and Aero L-159?