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Iraqi defence minister confirms purchase of fighter jets from Pakistan

Minister Juma, in a recent interview with Al Arabiya, stated that Iraq signed a contract with a Pakistani company to purchase combat aircrafts. The Minister also said the aircrafts from Pakistan will be used for "anti-drone" operations.

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Iraq’s Defence Minister Juma Inad confirms the purchase of combat aircraft from Pakistan. He made the revelations in a recent interview with Al Arabiya, an international Arabic television news channel based in Dubai.

During the interview, the talk turned to the Pakistani JF-17 Thunder fighter deal. To clarify,  last year reports emerged that Pakistan received an international defense order from Iraq for the sale of 12 fighter jets JF-17 Thunder Block III, manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra.

In 2021, several rounds of negotiations took place between Pakistan and Iraq. They concluded during the visit of an Iraqi defence delegation led by Deputy Commander Iraqi Air Force Major General (Pilot) Muhammad Majeed Mahdi Mahmood.

Read more: Iraq orders 12 JF-17 fighter jets from Pakistan

Regarding this, Minister Juma stated that Iraq signed a contract with a Pakistani company to purchase the combat aircrafts. The Minister also said the aircrafts from Pakistan will be used for “anti-drone” operations.

Minister Juma also highlighted the increase in drone threats from militias in Iraq. Therefore, to counter the threat, Iraq will buy “anti-drone aircraft” from Pakistan. He also said, “We are getting some aircraft now & further orders will be made in the future”. 

Important to note, Iraq has recently seen a rise in rocket and drone attacks. A few days ago, three rockets landed in the Baghdad International Airport compound, damaging one disused civilian airplane. Similarly, earlier this month, Iraq said foiled a drone attack on a base hosting US troops.

As a result of the frequent attacks, Iraq is looking into vamping up its defense systems with Pakistan’s JF-17s. However, while the Iraqi defense minister made the claims during the interview, an official confirmation from both the Iraqi and the Pakistani government is awaited.

Pakistan’s defense exports increase!

Iraq is not the first country to show an interest in Pakistani fighter jets. In July 2015, Myanmar became the first export customer of the JF-17 Thunder with an order for 16 Block II variants.

Furthermore, Nigeria bought three JF-17 thunder fighter jets in May 2021, following a $184 million sale contract between two countries. The Nigerian military and political leadership also expressed “complete satisfaction” over the performance of the jets.

Additionally, in November 2021, Azerbaijan also expressed interest in buying Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder.

“The purchase of JF-17 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan is a key item on our agenda,” Colonel Mehman Novruzov, the defense attaché of Azerbaijan’s embassy in Islamabad told the media.

Read more: Azerbaijan to buy Pakistan’s JF-17s but Armenia rejects India’s Tejas?

PAC and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China jointly developed the JF-17 Thunder, a single-engine multi-role combat aircraft.