Pentagon intends to sell Apache choppers to Iraq

Photo: Pentagon intends to sell Apache choppers to Iraq / Other News

The Pentagon on Monday notified Congress of its intention to sell Iraq 24 Apache attack helicopters worth some 4.8 billion dollars, Xinhua reported.

The move came as President Barack Obama's administration is stepping up its support for Baghdad's efforts to fight resurgent al-Qaida militants.

Sixty Hellfire missile launchers and 480 Hellfire missiles are included in the package, according to the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees foreign arms sales.

"This proposed sale of AH-64E Apache helicopters will support Iraq's efforts to establish a fleet of multi-mission attack helicopters capable of meeting its requirements for close air support, armed reconnaissance and anti-tank warfare missions," the agency said in a press release.

It will not alter the "basic military balance" in the region, added the DSCA.

On Monday, the agency also informed Congress of its plan to sell Iraq equipment valued at some 1.37 billion dollars to support the training of Iraqi pilots on the "operation and maintenance" of six leased U.S. Apache helicopters.

Iraq suffered the highest level of violence in 2013 due to surging attacks by al-Qaida militants and tribal forces, with more than 8,000 people killed across the country.

Parts of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, and all of Fallujah, another big city in the western province, have fallen under the control of anti-government militants for the past few weeks.

Washington has shipped weapons to Iraq and shared intelligence with the government, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has requested more weaponry as well as counter-terrorism training.

The U.S. military was reportedly mulling such training in a third country, while Jordan has voiced its willingness to host the training.

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