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Iraq May Buy $2.4 Billion Air Defense System


The U.S. Defense Department has alerted Congress to a possible sale to Iraq of a $2.4 billion integrated air defense system.

The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the Iraqi government has requested the equipment, including 40 truck-mounted Avenger fire units made by Boeing Co., 681 Stinger surface-to-air missiles made by Raytheon Co. and 216 medium-range Hawk missiles also made Raytheon, among other products.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country," the agency said in a statement dated Aug. 5.

The government of Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion a decade ago has sought to rebuild its military in part with American-made equipment, including M1 Abrams tanks made by General Dynamics Corp., F-16 fighter jets and C-130 cargo planes made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and armed scout helicopters made by Textron Inc.'s Bell Helicopter unit.

As of 2012, the Pentagon's $11.6 billion foreign military sales program with Iraq was the fourth-largest in the region and the ninth-largest in the world, Peter Verga, chief of staff to the undersecretary of defense for policy, said last year during a congressional hearing, according to an account of the event.

In a foreign military sale, the U.S. buys weapons or equipment on behalf of a foreign government. Countries approved to participate in the program may obtain military hardware or services by using their own funding or money provided through U.S.-sponsored assistance programs.

The U.S. since 2005 has offered Iraq some $35 billion in weapons and services, though only about $8 billion of that involve deals implemented or approved by the U.S. government, according to William Hartung, an author and director at the Center for International Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.

Some of the high-profile sales to Iraq already underway include 140 M1 Abrams tanks, 18 F-16s (with a pending order for another 18 of the jets), six C-130s, and other aircraft and combat vehicles, according to a research note by Hartung.

The war in Iraq has cost U.S. taxpayers $1.7 trillion, with another $490 billion owed to combat veterans, for a projected cost of $2.2 trillion -- far more than the initial Office of Management and Budget estimates of between $50 billion and $60 billion, according to a study released this year by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

What's more, because the war was funded by borrowing, interest charges may ultimately total more than $3.9 trillion -- bringing the final cost of the war to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades, according to the report.

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