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PakDef Military Consortium Press Release 26-02-14 MFI-17 Super Mushak sale to Iraq
By Z...

The sale of 20 MFI-17 Super Mushak basic trainers to Iraq is a welcome development and a reflection of the high quality of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) products and services. That Pakistan also signed a training and development assistance programme for the Iraqi Air force to give basic training to Iraqi pilots, and will also evaluate and survey other areas of the Iraq’s air power and air defence capability for improvement, lays the foundation for possible future deals.

The Super Mushak is a superb aircraft and well-suited to Iraq’s requirements. However, in monetary terms the deals signed during the visit of the nine-strong Iraqi defence delegation (which included commander of Iraq’s Air Force, Gen. Anwer Hamad Amen Ahmed, and commander of Iraqi air defense, Gen. Jabbar Ubaid Kedhum) is not very much. The aircraft (plus spares, support, and training) will apparently cost US$94 million. The sale is nevertheless welcome, and considering Iraq could have procured nearly any other aircraft in the same class as the Super Mushak it will hopefully strengthen the case for the aircraft to also be selected by Turkey for its basic trainer/screener programme. 

The delegation also visited a range of training and defence systems production facilities, and they were offered the full range of training aircraft up to intermediate/advanced jet trainers, namely the Karakorum K-8. In terms of training aircraft the Iraqis have already acquired the Lasta-95 intermediate trainer, Hawker Beechcraft Texan II turboprop trainer, and the KAI T-50IQ Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer. It is unlikely therefore they could require further training aircraft unless it is a follow on order for more Super Mushaks. 

The training deal is reportedly worth some US$90 million, and is probably of more importance even though Iraqi personnel are already undergoing training by Jordan, South Korea, and the US. The PAF has however helped train Iraqi pilots in the past and hopefully the new arrangement will be no less fruitful. Until Iraq establishes a wholesale training programme of its own it will be reliant to a degree on other parties to help it in this regard. Training deals with other parties are either equipment/procurement-related or otherwise for a limited duration. If Pakistan can therefore aid Iraq over the long term the training deal will be more lucrative than the Super Mushak sale. 

Coupled with development assistance for Iraq’s air force and air defence system, there is potential for further sales such as a C4I system (as sold to Bangladesh), UAVs, and perhaps even air defence systems. Seeing as Pakistan only produces AAA and MANPAD SHORAD systems and not larger SAMs, these will probably be limited in financial value, but will be vital in helping Iraq regenerate its air defence capabilities. 

The big question for Pakistan however would be if a sale of the JF-17 Thunder was possible. The Iraqi purchase of the T-50IQs could lead the way to the purchase of the FA-50 attack/light fighter variant, which is roughly comparable in some ways to the JF-17. Though it would be a good option to make up a high/low mix in support of the F-6IQs on order, it is apparently however more expensive than the JF-17, and not as capable. A JF-17 sale to Iraq therefore cannot be ruled out especially if the price of oil declines further and drains Iraq’s purchasing power, but it is perhaps more realistic to expect further sales to be in areas besides aircraft for the time being.