February 3, 2016 / 4:25 PM / 4 years ago

Second batch of U.S. F-16 jets arrives in Iraq

U.S. F-16 fighter jet is seen during an official ceremony to receive four of these aircrafts from the U.S. at the tarmac a military base in Balad, Iraq, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq has received a second batch of F-16 fighter jets from the United States, a U.S. military spokesman said on Wednesday.

Iraq ordered 36 of the $65 million Lockheed Martin Corp planes, but initial deliveries were delayed because of security concerns after Islamic State militants overran large areas of the country last year.

Delivery of the planes has also been limited by the training of Iraqi pilots, which can take up to two years, said Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State.

Two more F-16 jets have arrived in Iraq, bringing the total number of such jets in the Iraqi air force to six, Warren said. He did not say exactly when the jets were delivered. The first batch of four jets was delivered in July.

The Iraqi air force has primarily used the four jets in the first batch to carry out deliberate, pre-planned strikes against Islamic State across Iraq, Warren said.

“The Iraqis have put those to good use,” Warren said. “We look forward to this additional capability along with the additional trained pilots.”

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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