Among the 28 airstrikes in Iraq and eight in Syria carried out against ISIL Sunday and Monday were the first strikes carried out by Iraqi Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons during their first combat missions, according to a Pentagon news release.
“Today the government of Iraq announced that Iraq has conducted its first counter-ISIL air operations using F-16 fighter aircraft,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. “We commend the Iraqi Air Force for its successful use of this cutting edge aircraft in the international campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. The first four aircraft purchased by the government were delivered to Iraq in July. The United States is committed to building a strategic partnership with Iraq and the Iraqi people and we will continue to work with the government of Iraq on the delivery of the remaining aircraft as they become available within the framework of the production schedule.”
Iraq purchased 36 F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the United States, with the first aircraft taking flight in May 2014. Iraqi pilots and maintainers have been training on the aircraft in the United States, and the first four arrived in Iraq in July 2015. One Iraqi Air Force F-16 crashed in the Arizona desert during training for nighttime in-flight refueling in June, killing its pilot, Brig Gen. Rasid Mohammed Sadiq.
A spokesman for the Iraqi department of defense confirmed that precision weapons were used in the strikes, according to Agence France Presse.