US Air Force F-16 during takeoff 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel is increasingly concerned with the military build-up in Iraq amid
intelligence reports that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is
solidifying its presence in the country, according to a senior IDF
Of particular concern is the Pentagon’s approval in late 2011 of
the sale of 36 F- 16 multi-role combat aircraft to Iraq. The planes will be
built by Lockheed Martin in the US and are Block 52 F-16s, meaning that they are
of the same configuration as Israel’s F-16Is, called Sufa (Storm).
are carefully watching the developments in Iraq,” the IDF officer
“The possible developments there are not immediate, but since the
US withdrawal from Iraq we do not know what will evolve there.”
concern was demonstrated in the Halamish multi-year procurement plan, which the
IDF General Staff approved in late 2011 but has yet to implement due to
continued disagreements between the Defense Ministry and the Treasury over the
size of the defense budget for the coming five years.
In the IDF’s
strategic analysis for the region – which serves as the foundation for the
procurement plans – Iraq once again appears as a potential threat to Israel,
something it has not posed since the US invasion of the country in
In addition to F-16s, the Iraqis have also purchased C-130
transport aircraft from the US, as well as a variety of land platforms, like
Israel’s concern is compounded by intelligence reports
that the “Al-Quds Force” – the IRGC branch responsible for overseas operations –
has been solidifying its presence in the country and is meddling in internal
As it did in 2010 after the US announced a $60 billion
sale of military hardware to Saudi Arabia, Israel has refrained from actively
lobbying against the sale of the aircraft. This is due to an understanding that
the US makes these sales in order to try and retain a level of influence over
other countries, and that these nations would turn instead to Russia if the US
didn’t sell them the equipment.