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US poised to sell Iraq $2 bn in military equipment

This picture taken 26 December 2011 shows the Pentagon building in Washington, DC
This picture taken 26 December 2011 shows the Pentagon building in Washington, DC. The Pentagon has informed the US Congress of a possible sale of $2 billion worth of military equipment to Iraq, officials said Friday.

The Pentagon has informed the US Congress of a possible sale of $2 billion worth of military equipment to Iraq, officials said Friday.

Lawmakers, notified Thursday, have 30 days to raise any objections to the plan, which consists of three contracts.

The first includes 12 Bell 412 EP helicopters and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support totalling an estimated $300 million.

"This equipment will provide the Iraqi Air Force with a search and rescue capability critical to developing a mature Air Force," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, or DSCA, said in a statement.

The second contract, worth an estimated $900 million, is for 50 M1135 Stryker Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles.

The sale would provide the Iraqi army "with reliable capabilities for early warning of contamination by radiological, biological, and chemical material," according to the DSCA.

Worth some $750 million, the final contract is for five years of maintenance support for a series of vehicles, from simple jeeps to so-called Tactical Floating River Bridge Systems.

"Helping Iraq maintain, sustain, and effectively utilize the equipment it has purchased or received from the United States over the past decade is a US priority," the DSCA said.

As with all notifications of such plans, it underscored that the proposed sale would not "alter the basic military balance in the region."

In December 2011, the United States approved the sale of 36 F-16 fighter jets to Baghdad in a contract worth several billion dollars.

In October 2012, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had asked Washington, whose troops left the country at the end of 2011, to speed up delivery of weapons for Iraqi troops.

Baghdad had signed weapons contracts with Russia worth more than $4.2 billion, but these were later canceled on suspicion of corruption.

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