In response to the advance of ISIS, the Iraqi military has taken an emergency deliveries of Su-25 ground attack fighters:
A video uploaded by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence and a subsequent announcement shed light on Iraq’s first success in acquiring a combat capable platform to stop the advance of the Islamic State. The latter has made great progress in capturing large areas of Iraq and is now slowly advancing to Iraq’s capital Baghdad.
”The Ministry of Defence announced the arrival of the first out of five Russian combat aircraft Su-25 into Iraqi territory under a contract with the Russian ministry, which will contribute to increasing the combat capability of the Air Force and the other branches of the armed forces to eliminate terrorism.”
The Iraqi Army and Air Force have proved anything but capable to halt the Islamic State’s advance and have been desperately looking for other ways to fill the caps currently posed in Iraqi’s Armed Forces. With the United States reluctant to provide close air support or speeding up the delivery of Iraq’s F-16s, Iraq has been increasingly looking to countries in Eastern Europe to strengthen the Iraqi Air Force (IQAF). It is now clear a batch of five ex-Russian Su-25s are the first to have arrived.
The first Su-25, still in Russian Air Force (RuAF) camouflage and with a hastily applied Iraqi flag, arrived onboard a Russian An-124-100 cargo plane together with ground support equipment on the 28th of June. The Su-25s are believed to have been stored at the Aircraft Repair Plant 121 (ARZ 121) in Kubinka before being flown to Iraq. The contract also included new engines for the aircraft, which were installed just before the delivery flight.
The Iraqis have been waiting for the delivery of F-16s, but they got these surplus Su-25s in a matter of a few weeks.
It also of note that the Iraq AF operated this under Saddam, and the Iranians operate them today, so there is operational experience that can be tapped.
Additionally, under the current tactical situation, it’s a better weapon system than the F-16, because what is needed is a dedicated close air support (CAS) and strike aircraft with low operational costs.
What’s more the aircraft’s agility at low speed and low altitude allows it to maximize the effect of unguided munitions, which comprise the bulk of Iraqi munitions.
Additionally, it constitutes a major change in Iraqi policy. It shows that they are moving away from Western weapon systems, and the US defense contractors. (Yet another goal of Bush/Cheney that has turned into a fail)
So, the failure of the Neocon’s Iraq adventure continues to damage the interests of the United States.