Iraqi Dispute over Alleged Israeli Device in F-16 Purchase

Article Summary
Iraq’s purchase of US F-16 fighter jets is questioned by Iraqi parliamentarians after allegations of Israeli-made recording devices in the aircraft. Jawdat Kazem reports that many Iraqi lawmakers seek to play down the discovery, while others call for the fighter jet deal to be scrapped entirely.

The Iraqi parliamentary Security and Defense Committee demanded that the contract for the purchase of United States F-16 fighter jets be canceled in the event that the US refuses to replace the Israeli-made recording devices that they contain.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Foreign Relations Committee ruled out the possibility of cancelling the deal unless a special law is enacted.

Iskandar Watout, vice chairman of the Security and Defense parliamentary committee, told Al-Hayat over the phone: "The Committee in particular and the Parliament in general refuse the existence of this Israeli device in the F-16 aircraft, and if it is not removed, we will seek to cancel the contract and replace the aircraft with others from different sources.

"The committee will interrogate those responsible for the deal in order to find out the reason why there is an Israeli information recording device ​​in the aircraft to be imported by Iraq," he added.

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Officers in the Iraqi Air Force had revealed the existence of an Israeli-made recording device in the F-16 aircraft manufactured by [American aeronautical firm] Lockheed Martin.

MP Asmaa al-mousawi, member of the Foreign Relations Committee told Al-Hayat that "it is not possible to cancel the deal for the sake of responding to personal demands.

"Discovering the recording device in the US aircraft — the sale of which was agreed upon — is a good thing, and it is in the benefit of the Iraqi Air Force that it has been spotted it while the potential of these aircraft was merely being explored, knowing that the pilots of other countries — which have been importing these aircraft with the same specifications for years — failed to do so," she explained.

"Iraq can remove those devices from the aircraft, no one can stop it, and the rumors about US pressure aimed at preventing the removal of these recording devices is not true, as the said deal consists of providing the country with aircraft, regardless of how the country will use them or whether it will possibly introduce modifications to their technical and mechanical structure."

A source in the State of Law coalition told Al-Hayat that "the fuss about the recording devices in the US aircraft is more of a political, rather than a technical issue."

The source added that "the US has not imposed any conditions on Iraq during the aircraft deal. Therefore, one cannot make blind accusations."

The source added that "officials in the Iraqi Air Force have formed a technical committee to determine the extent of damage caused by this device and to find a strong technical mechanism that can remove the recording device without damaging the structure and work of the aircraft, all the while providing them with other anti-spyware devices."

The source added that "the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) has granted the engineering and technical teams which are following up on the US aircraft issue broad powers, provided they refer to him before the implementation of any proposal to correct and evaluate the work of the aircraft."

It is noteworthy that Iraq concluded two advanced F-16 fighter jet deals last year. These include the purchase of 36 aircraft, the first batch of which arrives in next March. Iraq has sent a group of pilots to train in the US.

There has been controversy in Iraq ever since the deal was concluded, as people close to the government accused Washington of obstructing the supply of the aircraft.

Meanwhile, the President of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, voiced concerns over the use of aircraft to suppress the Iraqi people, demanding that the deal be stopped.

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Found in: weapons, us, security, mossad, israel, iraqi parliament, iraq
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