President Barack Obama told a recent interviewer he did not want the U.S. military to become Iraq’s air force. But he may have little choice.
Iraq had only a fledgling air force when the United States withdrew in 2011. Washington has agreed to bolster Iraqi air power by selling Baghdad 36 sophisticated F-16 multi-role jet fighters and 24 Apache helicopters.
But lengthy contract negotiations, long manufacturing lead times and slow bureaucracies have taken a toll. The Iraqi planes are just beginning to roll off the production line, four years after Congress was first notified of the planned sale and just as Baghdad is fighting for survival against jihadist militants. […]