The Iraqi news outlet Mawazin reports that Iraq is in the process of finalizing a $2.5 billion U.S. purchase of HQ-9/FD-2000 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems from China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC). As per Mawazin, the purchase will be financed using credit from China, which will require Baghdad to pay in installments of $833 million U.S.
Notes & Comments:
China is emerging as one of Iraq’s leading suppliers, especially in armaments that are not readily available to non-NATO or distantly allied countries in the West. These include armed unmanned aerial vehicles such as the CH-4, which Iraq acquired in October 2015, and long-range SAM technology, among other systems.
Russia leads the industry in terms of providing long-range SAM solutions, via the S-300, to the developing world. China has been seeking to make inroads in this market using HQ-9 (designated FD-2000 for the export market), which is generally thought to have been developed from the S-300PMU.
The procurement of the HQ-9 would mark one of Iraq’s first, if not the first, acquisition with external state-level threats in mind. Although Iraq has spent the previous decade rebuilding its armed forces, many of its marquee systems have been tailored for internal counterinsurgency operations. A significant amount of expenditure in this regard had gone to the U.S., most notably in the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block-52+.
It will be worth seeing if Iraq further invests in its conventional defence capabilities, especially in terms of offensive assets such as medium (or heavy)-weight combat aircraft or short-range ballistic missiles, which are available for sale in Russia and China.