Above: example of Sukhoi Su-30 type multirole combat aircraft in service with Indian Air Force
Media reports on 26JUN14 indicate attempts by the Maliki government in Baghdad to procure combat aircraft to be employed against the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive. This brief post will discuss these potential developments.
According to the BBC:
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has told the BBC that he hopes jets from Russia and Belarus will turn the tide against rebels in the coming days.
"God willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens," he said.COMMENTARY: Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki has on a number of recent occasions publicly identified a lack of capable, fixed-wing combat aviation as a cause for ISF difficulties on the battlefield, as well as declaring the employment of U.S. airpower conditional on his removal from office. As such, public statements by officials in Baghdad related to potential airstrikes should be viewed within the context of political posturing inherent with the forming of Iraq's next government at a time of crisis.
He said that the process of buying US jets had been "long-winded" and that the militants' advance could have been avoided if air cover had been in place.
"I'll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US]," Mr Maliki said.
"We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened," he went on.COMMENTARY: The Kurds had lobbied hard for Washington to deny fixed-wing combat aircraft such as the F-16 to Iraq, with the aim of denying a further empowerment of the Maliki government. Any delays by their lobbying effort paid off during the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive, with Baghdad powerless to prevent the Kurdish seizure of Kirkuk.
In addition to the Kurdish lobby efforts, Iraqi perception of delayed deliveries of American-made combat aircraft had been a source of friction made public many times in the past. Providing of sophisticated American weapons remains an effective source of leverage on nations where divergence of interests may affect relations.
According to Russian defense media source RIA:
Director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade Igor Korotchenko suggested that Iraq has purchased six Russian Su-30K, which is being repaired in Belarus.
"Probably, it is about six Su-30K, which are available in Belarus 558 aircraft repair plant in Baranovichi," - said Korochenko RIA Novosti on Thursday.
He explained that it is part of a batch of 18 Russian Su-30K, which were returned after the operation in the Indian Air Force in accordance with the terms of the contract and passed on repair and restoration of the Belarus plant.
He suggested that in addition to these aircraft, Iraq could also be interested in the purchase of MiG-29 aircraft and attack helicopters Mi-24, already in operation or in Russia or Belarus.COMMENTARY: Earlier in the week, there were rumors and reports that Iraq had requested combat aircraft that decades before escaped to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. If accurate, this writer had interpreted this development in terms of Iran potentially providing military aircraft to Iraq in Iraqi markings, using Iranian air and ground crews. Such arrangements would in ways be similar, historically, to American aircraft using Republic of Vietnam markings in the Farm Gate operations, during America's early involvement in the Vietnam War.
It is assumed that should these Russian aircraft materialize in the time frame indicated by Iraq's PM, such foreign-operated arrangements appear likely.