Skip to comments.Iraqi Arms Purchases October 2012
Posted on 10/15/2012 8:36:49 PM PDT by DJ Elliott
First reports are always wrong. The initial reports were of $4.2 billion in Russian arms buys with 42 Pantsir-S1 units and 30 Mi-28NE helicopters. That led to the following 3 possibilities:
A big rip-off. More equipment being bought but not reported. Lower price than reported.
The $4.2 billion reported price tag comes from Russian press and was based on Iraq buying everything that was on the table they didnt. PM Maliki has denied Russian fighter buys: "we are buying defensive weapons only, air defence equipment and helicopters for anti-terrorist use, not sukhois or migs." There had been previous reports of negotiations for both fighter types. Iraq also rejected T90 tanks apparently the reports of the Russian Army rejecting them, Indias issues with the fire-control system overheating, and a price tag higher than M1A1s convinced them to go elsewhere for tanks.
[Comment: There are no defensive or offensive weapons. Defense and offense are employment options for all weapons. That being said, the common perceptions are that armor is offensive.]
Iraq is reported to be buying additional long-range radars as part of the package and is rumored to be negotiating for SA20 [S300] SAMs. The 30 Mi-28s [1 Attack Sq-probably to be based at Taji] are reported to be $1 billion with the price for the Pantsir-S1s and additional air defense items is reported to be $2.3 billion according to Iraqi sources. There is also a surcharge for rapid delivery involved in those prices.
At first glance the Pantsir-S1 is a rip-off. The Pantsir-S1 is a cheaper wheeled version of the SA19 which is a failure in its originally planned role as a regimental air defense system because of susceptibility to jamming. However, it is still used for cruise-missile defense of SA20 sites because its communications/radars are compatible and cruise-missiles do not normally carry jammers. This indicates that the Pantsir-S1s and additional electronics/radar systems are the first portion of an air defense system that includes SA20.
42 Pantsir-S1s is 7 batteries of 6 firing units each in Russian structure indicating 7 initial planned Air Defense Battalions composed of 1 Battery of Pantsir-S1, 1 battery of SA20, and 1-2 batteries of anti-aircraft guns. Based on the locations of the 4 known Iraqi Sector Operations Commands, existing air bases, and the gaps between those SOC locations a projection of where these systems probably will be located can be made. It should be noted that only the 4 identified SOCs [Kirkuk, Taji, Al Asad, and Tallil] are high probability while the other 3 locations are estimates. [See map] Eventually, these battalions will probably expand into Air Defense Brigades. The IA Air Defense Command could be the fifteenth IA division repeatedly mentioned in Iraqi press given this rapid expansion and the 4 brigade initial structure.
[Note: Some countries use 4 firing units per battery vice 6. If that is the case, the other 3 batteries not illustrated on the map would probably be Basrah, Rutbah, and NAMAB.]
Likewise, at first glance, the $1 billion dollar price for the 28 Czech L159s appears excessive especially since previous reports were that they were negotiating for used aircraft. However, only 4 of the L159s are used and to be delivered in 7 months as trainers. The additional 24 L159s are new-building two-seat L159BQ trainer/attack aircraft modified to Iraqi specifications to deliver 2014-2016. This Training/Lt Attack Squadron will probably be based at Tikrit.
Also, overlooked by most reporting but mentioned on Iraqi TV, the Czech deal includes establishing an Iraqi Armor rework/upgrade facility for T72 tanks. [At Taji?] This is more important than the aircraft deal and accounts for much of the price. An upgrade facility in Iraq for T72s means that the Iraqis are probably planning on buying large numbers of used T72s and [like the Russian Army] are going to use upgraded T72s as a large part of their tank force vice buying new T90s. The most likely sources for used T72s include the Ukraine and Poland - Russia is retaining its T72s and upgrading them thus is unlikely to have spares available to sell.
Iraq has ordered an additional 8 M88 armored recovery vehicles for the Iraqi Army through US FMS. This is the prime recovery vehicle for M1A1 [and similar western] tanks and is usually fielded at 2 per IA Tank Regiment [35 tanks]. While the IA has not reported to have exercised its option to buy 140 more M1A1s and has not been reported to buy any similar tanks [Korean K1?], this indicates a new tank buy is in the works.
Also mentioned in Al Sumeria news is a delivery of artillery from Serbia in the next 2 months. This is likely to be 120mm mortars but, could include Plamen Multiple Rocket Launchers that have been rumored to have been bought by Iraq for the last 2 years.
When reading press reports of arms buys, you should: always remember that the first reports are always inaccurate, the reporter is likely to leave out or not know key details, and that exaggeration of the price is the norm [especially in Russian press].
Related: Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle [Updated monthly]
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