Iraq's air force to receive T-50 South Korean fighter jets soon: army spokesperson
The Iraqi air force is making preparations to enter 24 T-50 supersonic South Korean fighter jets into service soon, Major General Yehia Rasool, the spokesperson for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces said during an exclusive interview with Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic language sister website, published on Tuesday.
The fighter jets will reinforce the capabilities of Iraq's air force and allow it to conduct multi-tasked missions within the anti-terrorism operations in the north, west and middle of the country.
"The Swera airbase, southeast of Baghdad, is being prepared for the fighter jets' taking off and landing. Currently, we are focusing on finishing logistic preparations in order to enter it into service soon," Rasul said.
"The T-50 supersonic are very advanced fighter jets that include very advanced technologies in terms of stealth as well as combat missions, competing with the F16 US-made fighter jets. They are also used for supporting the infantry units, air space defence as well as advanced training missions," Rasul added.
He also indicated that the Iraqi government has several armament priorities in 2023, mainly reinforcing the aerospace defence capabilities to protect the country's aerospace.
Ahmed al-Sharifi, an expert on Iraqi affairs, also told the outlet that the fighter jets can protect large areas across Iraq, with big-abilities of manoeuvring similar to US fighter jets, giving Iraq a milestone in the race for armament among the countries in the area.
Iraq also has a long track record of buying Russian, military hardware. Iraq procured the majority of its surface-to-air missile systems throughout the long rule of Saddam Hussein from the former Soviet Union along with most of its warplanes, including fourth-generation MiG-29A Fulcrum jets.
In the post-2003 era, it was speculated that the Iraqi military would buy predominantly US-made hardware and model itself after the US military, and indeed, it did receive a large fleet of M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks and, beginning in 2015, F-16 fighter-bombers.
The Islamic State proclaimed itself as a 'caliphate' following a meteoric rise in Iraq and Syria in 2014 that saw it conquer vast swathes of territory.
It was eventually defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells of the extremist group still carry out attacks in both countries.