Hellfire missiles aboard a U.S. helicopter. (Photo: Looper5920)
WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is moving ahead with the possible supply of thousands of Hellfire missiles to Iraq as the country battles Islamic insurgent forces.
The missiles -- a total of 5,000 AGM-114K/N/R Hellfires -- would be procured by Baghdad under a U.S. Foreign Military Sales deal worth an estimated $700 million.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, in its required notification to Congress of the possible sale, said that the deal would include Hellfire missile conversion, blast fragmentation sleeves and installation kits, containers, transportation, spare and repair parts, support equipment, and personnel training and training equipment.
The principal contractor would be Lockheed Martin.
"This proposed sale directly supports the government of Iraq and serves the interests of the people of Iraq and the United States," the agency said.
"Iraq will use the Hellfire missiles to help improve the Iraq Security Forces' capability to support current on-going ground operations. Iraq will also use this capability in future contingency operations."
The U.S. State Department has already given its approval for the FMS.
Iraq has been in an increasing state of sectarian and terrorist turmoil since the United States withdrew from the country in 2011. It is now locked in a life or death struggle against forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist "army" which gained strength as a result of political and military turmoil in neighboring Syria and which has captured a number of major cities in Iraq.
The group, which has declared a caliphate in Iraq and is close to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has instituted a reign of terror in territory under its control. That control and its military prowess have been enhanced through the use of military weapons and equipment -- including U.S. military gear -- captured by fleeing or surrendering government troops.
Analysts see the situation in Iraq as a major threat to the region, as well as the United States and U.S. interests.
In other development on the weapons front, Iraq has also requested a Foreign Military Sales deal from Washington for aviation sustainment support, on-the-job maintenance training and maintenance advice and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $500 million.
The package would be for the country's Bell 407, OH-58 and Huey II military helicopters.
"The government of Iraq needs this logistics support, contractor maintenance, training, and technical services to maintain the operational capabilities of its aircraft," the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency told Congress.
If approved, the principal contractor would be Bell Helicopter.
"Implementation of this proposed sale will require approximately five U.S. government and 25 contractor representatives to travel to or reside in Iraq for a period of five years to establish maintenance support, on-the-job maintenance training and maintenance advice," the agency said.