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Iraq's order of 18 F-16s from Lockheed Martin is official

It's finally official: Iraq is getting F-16s.

On Monday, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics an $835 million contract to supply the Iraqi government with 18 F-16 fighter jets plus equipment, continued logistics and other support.

Iraq had been in talks with the U.S. government and Lockheed about buying F-16s since at least early 2009. The Obama administration approved it more than a year ago.

But as recently as February, Iraq said it was indefinitely postponing the purchase. It reversed course mid-year, and in late September, Iraq agreed to terms with Lockheed and paid the U.S. $1.5 billion for aircraft, engines and related equipment.

Although anticipated for months, it's the first firm F-16 order for Lockheed in well over a year and will help keep its production line in west Fort Worth operating through 2015. Lockheed has also said it expects a follow-up order soon from Oman.

This year, Lockheed was eliminated from a 125-plane competition in India. And the Obama administration has denied the sale of 66 new planes to Taiwan
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About 2,000 workers in Fort Worth build the mid- and forward fuselage for the F-16 and perform final assembly.

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Distributed by MCT Information Services
 

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In this series from August, 2010, as the American military presence in Iraq was being reduced, Stars and Stripes looked at the costs of the war through the eyes of Iraqis and Americans and asked: What difference did we really make?