The first Czech L-159 light combat ALCA aircraft have reached the Balad base in Iraq. According to the Iraqi Minister of Defence, the jets are soon going to be used in combat, against the ISIS terrorists. The ceremony which took place at the Balad airbase, north of Baghdad (which is the same base in which the Iraqi F-16 jets are stationed) was attended by the Iraqi Minister of Defence – Khaled al-Obeidi, and by the Czech Republic Secretary of Defence.
On the basis of the agreement signed with the Czech Aero Vodochody company, 15 jets are going to be delivered in total to Iraq (10 single-seater aircraft – in the L159A version, and two twin-seater jets – coming in the L159B variant), along with three additional jets which would be acting as a spare parts supply. All of the ordered aircraft are to be delivered to Iraq until 2017. Four of the above mentioned airframes are being currently used by the Czech Air Force, while eleven are going to be provided from the Aero Vodochody company’s storage. In order to realize the transaction, Czech Ministry of Defence transferred its jets to the Aero Vodochody company, since the Ministry is legally banned from being a party in armament trade.
Baghdad is going to pay more than USD 40 million, for the newly acquired airplanes. The transaction will make it possible for the Czechs to save thousands of dollars, required maintain the L-159 ALCA jets in storage. Thanks to the contract, ca. 250 jobs are going to be created in the Czech industry.
The current purchases made in the Czech Republic are a part of the process, the aim of which is to expand the potential of the Iraqi Air Force, struggling in a conflict against the Islamic rebels from the Islamic State, in the northern part of the country. The Iraqis have also ordered 36 examples of the F-16IQ jets (C/D Block 52), 7 out of which have been already delivered to Iraq. The delivered examples are being used operationally in the air-strikes against the IS. Moreover, Iraq also acquired 24 South Korean T-50IQ (FA-50) multi-role jets. Deliveries related to the latter aircraft are going to commence, starting from April 2016.