The Iraqi Government’s failure to sign an offer made by the US may have led the to cancellation of the $4.8bn foreign military sale (FMS) of AH-64E Apache helicopters to the national army.
In an email to DefenseNews, US Army Security Assistance Command spokeswoman Kim Gillespie wrote that the US Government sent a formal offer for 24 helicopters, spare parts and a comprehensive training programme, after the Pentagon notified Congress in January.
Iraq ‘never accepted it (and did not ask for an extension on the offer) and it expired in August’, Gillespie said.
However, an unnamed State Department official said that FMS programmes normally have a timeline after which they expire, but the deal with Iraq had not been formally cancelled.
The US is negotiating the deal with Iraq, along with more potential FMS cases that could be worth billions of dollars, the official added, noting that the entire congressional notification process would start again in the wake of changes in the potential contract value.
As part of the deal, Iraq had also requested the supply of engines, Hellfire missiles, electronic jamming equipment, 30mm automatic chain guns and assorted ammunition, spare and repair parts, as well as 200 contractors to provide personnel training, according to DefenseNews.
The Iraqi military had planned to use the helicopters in its fight against Islamic State (IS) militants, who have captured several cities in northern and western Iraq.
The Iraqi Embassy did not respond to several requests for comment, but the White House said that President Barack Obama will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the UN General Assembly in New York, US.
Nicknamed ‘Guardian’, the AH-64E is a heavily armed helicopter featuring powerful, fuel-efficient T700-GE-701D engines, enhanced rotor blade technology and electronics, as well as improved aircraft handling, performance and agility at higher altitudes.
Image: US Army pilots fly the new AH-64E Apache Longbow helicopter near Mesa, Arizona, US. Photo: courtesy of the US Army.