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21 Aralık 2013 Cumartesi

Iraq signs $1.1 bn deal to buy S. Korean fighters

December 12, 2013 Baghdad (AFP)

Iraq signed a $1.1 billion deal on Thursday to buy 24 multi-role light fighters from South Korea, as it seeks to build its fledgling air force amid rising violence.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) said it would deliver the T-50IQ, a variant of its T-50 supersonic aircraft, to Baghdad between 2015 and 2016, under the terms of the deal, which will be the Asian nation's biggest arms export.

The company said it also expected to sign an additional $1.0 billion deal in 2014 to provide parts, equipment and pilot training for 20 years.

The aircraft will likely serve as trainers for Iraqi pilots who will fly F-16s that have been ordered from the United States, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki indicated the Korean jets may also be used in combat.

"We signed a contract to buy 24 aircraft of the T-50IQ type ... for purposes of training and military actions," Maliki said after the signing, according to his website.

"This deal is the beginning for increasing the performance of the defence and interior ministries in the field of defending the country and fighting terrorism," Maliki said.

"We have come a long way on the road to completing our air force, and we will continue in this direction to protect Iraq against any aggression," he said.

The T-50IQ is an advanced multi-role fighter that is equipped with precision-guided weapons, missiles and machine guns.

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