The announcement of this order comes as Baghdad is considering asking U.S. troops to remain in Iraq beyond the deadline of withdrawal from December 31 to continue to train Iraqi security forces.
Gen. Michael Ferriter said that U.S. forces or contractors working under contract with the army could train Iraqi pilots. “This provides the basis of their air sovereignty,” he told reporters.
Another senior U.S. official said that the devices should not be delivered to Iraq before 2013 as part of the agreement worth about three billion dollars (2.2 billion euros).
A spokesman for the Iraqi government Ali al-Dabbagh has meanwhile said that 1, 4 billion dollars (1.03 billion euros) had been transferred as a partial payment and the F-16 could be delivered in the fall of 2012 at the earliest.
According to the Iraqi authorities, their air forces are not only willing to provide protection of the airspace.