Iraqi military plans major arms purchase

Iraqi National Police 1st Mechanized Brigade M1117 armored support vehicles at Karbala in March 2007

The Iraqi military has ordered equipment for its forces totaling more than $6 billion, according to sales notices sent to the US Congress. The weapons will be used to upgrade the equipment used by Iraqi Security Forces and expand their capabilities for internal and external defense.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has sent eight Foreign Materials Sales Notices to Congress on Dec. 9 of potential arms sales to Iraq. The purchases were apparently funded by the Iraqi Supplemental Budget allocation passed this summer. The Iraqi Security Forces apparently chose to accelerate their equipment purchases with the surplus funds.

The Iraqi Navy’s portion of these purchases doubles the number of patrol boats existing (5) or pending delivery (15) by adding 20 more. With the additional purchase of three support vessels, the Support Squadron grows to five vessels. While not adding a missile capability, this does double the gunboat component patrolling Iraq’s coastline.

• 20x 30-35meter Coastal Patrol Boats.

• 3x 55-60 meter Offshore Support Vessels.

The Iraqi Air Force’s portion of these purchases adds a training squadron and an additional armed reconnaissance helicopter squadron. It also adds two light attack squadrons or the attack component of four composite armed reconnaissance squadrons. This doubles the fixed wing training elements and almost doubles the previously reported light attack and armed reconnaissance helicopter components.

• 20 T-6A Texan trainer aircraft.

• 36 AT-6B Texan II Light Attack Aircraft.

• 26 Bell 407 Armed Helicopters, each equipped with a M280 2.75-inch Launcher, a XM296 .50 Cal. Machine Gun, and a M299 Hellfire Guided Missile Launcher.

The Iraqi Army’s share of this budget was for personal arms and more M1 tanks. In addition to purchasing additional M16 rifles, M4 carbines, and grenade launchers to continue re-equipping the Iraqi Army with US-made personal weapons, the Iraqi Army is getting four more battalions worth of M1A1M Abrams Tanks for a total of eight tank battalions with support elements. This doubles the number of M1 tanks on order.

• 80,000 M16A4 Rifles

• 25,000 M4 Carbines

• 2,550 M203 40mm Grenade Launchers

• 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks modified and upgraded to the M1A1M Abrams configuration

• 8 M88A2 Tank Recovery Vehicles

• 64 M1151A1B1 Armored High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV)

• 92 M1152 Shelter Carriers

• 12 M577A2 Command Post Carriers

• 16 M548A1 Tracked Logistics Vehicles

• 8 M113A2 Armored Ambulances

• 35 M1070 Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET) Truck Tractors

• 40 M978A2 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) Tankers

• 36 M985A2 HEMTT Cargo Trucks

• 4 M984A2 HEMTT Wrecker Trucks

• 140 M1085A1 5-ton Cargo Trucks

• 8 HMMWV Ambulances w/ Shelter

• 8 Contact Maintenance Trucks

• 16 2500 gal Water Tank Trucks

• 16 Motorcycles

• 16 Sedans

• 4 5,500-lb Rough Terrain Forklifts

The Iraqi National Police are getting M1126 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers and M1117 Armored Security Vehicles. The M1117s are used exclusively by the Iraqi National Police component of the Iraqi Security Forces. The notice also specifies that the Strykers are for the Iraqi Police forces. The INP 1st Mechanized Brigade has a battalion of BTR-94s and three battalions of mixed M1117s and Reva Armored Personnel Carriers. The Iraqi National Police has reported plans to form a light mechanized division next year. This purchase combined with existing armor indicate the accelerated formation of two National Police (Stryker) light Mechanized Divisions.

• 400 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles

• 400 M1126 STRYKER Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVs)

• 8 Heavy Duty Recovery Trucks

The eighth notice to Congress included $485 million worth of radios and included 64 Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelters. The types of radios indicate that this is a joint service purchase as some of the radios are maritime, some are aviation, and others are ground. The inclusion of the shelters indicate that part of this order is for the communications element of the four mobile corps being formed in the Iraqi Army. Some of the remainder are probably for the additional air bases being established. The air-to-ground radios are probably for the 50 EC-635 Attack Helicopters being purchased from France.

This series of purchases accelerates the expansion of the Iraqi Army and National Police’s mechanized forces. It provides the Iraqi Air Force with its first real ground attack force and an additional training squadron, while doubling the size of the Iraqi Navy. However, this is only the beginning of the upgrades needed to the Iraqi Security Forces before they can be independent. To date, there are no reported orders of howitzers, multiple rocket launchers, surface-air missiles, and naval missiles. Those are just a sampling of components still missing from the Iraqi Security Forces.


Iraqi Security Force Order of Battle


  • Solomon2 says:

    As I understand it, the Iraqi Army was rebuilt almost without a logistics arm. Are U.S. troops supposed to maintain all these new weapons?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Old data.
    The building of the ISF logistics components started two years ago.
    They have already took over life-support and the current training focus is Maintenance, Medical, Intel, and Engineering Route-clearance.
    It is still a work-in-progress, but then, what army isn’t?

  • jayc says:

    Excellent article. Please excuse me for my ignorance, but why would the Iraqi Army choose to man up with the American made assault rifle, as opposed to its Russian equivalent with which it has much more experience in using?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Not an ignorant question. It is still debated. I can think of many rifles that are better than M16s…
    My best read is the Iraqi MoD is trying to shift all systems to western made vice Russian junk (their attitude).
    Keep in mind that the old IA lost their last two wars against western equipped armies while using their Soviet/Russian made equipment…

  • Solomon2 says:

    Thanks for the correction, DJ!

  • jack winters says:

    Hi DJ
    Some more news, yesterday the Iraqi vice president Adil Abdul al-Mahdi said that the Iraqi budget for next year will be around 40B and that the GOI needs to make cut backs on spending because of lower oil prices. I guess that’s why the MOD and MOI decided to use their surplus funds quickly. How will this affect their plans for next year?
    More questions
    Iraq will have about 600 M1117s or did they modify their previous order of 160 which is it?
    Iraq will have around 80 attack recon helo’s yes?
    And DJ when I look at previous M-16 buys my count is that they ordered about 300,000 guns till now isn’t that too much for the army, and any time I see Iraqi troops on TV most still carry AK_47 what’s going on?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    jack winters:
    “How will this affect their plans for next year?”
    – This is why Stage 3 of the plan exists. Slop time for low budget years. Expect the equipment buys to be streached out so long as oil is down…
    “Iraq will have about 600 M1117s or did they modify their previous order of 160 which is it?”
    – I have an RFI in on that. No answer yet. If it is in addition, then you are looking at the start of the third INP Mech Div.
    “Iraq will have around 80 attack recon helo’s yes?”
    – Keep in mind production time. I think 30-40 by 2010 is closer to the mark including the EC-635 buy. Total probably planned EC-635/Bell 407 is for 240. 10 Sqs.
    The IA is planned to be ~300,000 by end 2009. Then there is the rest of the MoD and ISOF. About 50 percent of the IA is converted.
    Most of what you see on TV is MoI forces. Police. They are still AK equipped and have no plans to change.

  • Alex says:

    So maybe this extra order of M1 tanks means that they got tired of waiting on that M60 deal? Still, 270-280 main battle tanks really isn’t that much. It’s a big border with Iran. And Syria.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I have written about this already:
    Think 140/yr M1 orders. Five year plans. 700 M1s.
    Or four M1 equipped Battalions per year. 20 bns.
    If they do not get other tanks, then think two five year plans or 1400 M1s. 40 bns.
    Current inventory of T72s (~100) and planned NATO donations totals ~210. 6 bns.
    T54/55 = 72 in inventory. 2 bns.

  • rowan says:

    These M1’s arn’t going to all be US surplus are they?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Also already reported in previous articles.
    New built and paid for by the GoI.

  • Ali says:

    With all this new equipment I certainly hope no military coup will occur.
    Great article DJ.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I have addressed that problem in a previous article.
    That is why the ISF troops/equipment is divided between seperate services and seperate ministries. It makes it difficult for one person to gain control…
    All countries have that problem.
    It is a matter of historical record that George Washington stopped at least three planned military coups in the period from the end of the US war for independence to his swearing in as the first President under the new constitution.
    So far, the new Iraq is doing much better in that regard…

  • jack winters says:

    Hi DJ
    Do you know if Iraq cancelled the LAV-25 order or not? I know the Stryker is going for the INP and the LAV for the army but Do you if they cancelled?
    The other is unconfirmed reports although the vise president confirmed it that Kurdistan Iraq has ordered military equipment from Bulgaria and according to him it made Baghdad upset do you know anything about this deal?
    About the AT-6B you said that you think they will use them together with king air 350ER or Bird dogs so why give these aircraft the ability to fire hellfire?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    jack winters:
    “Do you know if Iraq cancelled the LAV-25 order or not? I know the Stryker is going for the INP and the LAV for the army but Do you if they cancelled?”
    – Katzman’s source for that report of the LAVs being canx is VP Public Affairs for GDLS. I have asked for confirmation from MNSTC-I SAO but, no response…
    The KRG arms deal is light arms only as best as I can make out.
    “About the AT-6B you said that you think they will use them together with king air 350ER or Bird dogs so why give these aircraft the ability to fire hellfire?”
    – Why not?
    Just because you have other aircraft that are armed does not mean they will be at the right place at the right time.
    Arming the Recon birds provides limited but immediate response capability.
    The AT-6Bs provide heavier response but they might not be available due to other commitments or time/distance.
    Always remember that the odds of a plan going wrong is a cube function of the number of active components. Hense the KISS principle…

  • anand says:

    280 M1A1M tanks are enough for 3 Tracked Mechanized Divisions (7th, 11th and maybe 14th in the south {18th IAD in Maysan is another candidate}), or 1 armored division.
    What might 64 M1151A1B1 Armored HMMWVs be used for?
    Will the four 5,500-lb Rough Terrain Forklifts be deployed, one per construction engineering battalion?
    12 M577A2 Command Post Carriers. Will each Corps HQs and 8 division HQs get one each?
    I wonder which units will get the armored ambulances. Probably some army or corps headquarters units.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    You are way off.
    Those are all part of the sets. Support elements of the 4 Tank Bns and the Bdes that 140 M1s are the core of.
    And those 8 bns are only two Mech Divisions worth:
    2x Tank Bde at 2 Tank Bns each = 4
    4x Mech Bde at 1 Tank Bn each = 4
    The other two Bdes being the wheeled Cav/Recon Bdes.
    Armor Divs in the IA organization have 6 Tank bns. (3 Tank Bdes and Cav Bde)
    35 M1s and 9 BMP1s plus the support elements. Some of the support elements will be in the Brigade Support Battalions, some in the tank bns. Ever tried to change out an engine in the field? Forklift comes in handy.
    12 Command vehicles is 4 per BSTB for three Bdes. Standard. HMMWVs are also standard in BSTB/BSBs and for Bn commander use since he does not always drive around in a tank. Same with the sedans. CO’s cars for Bde Cmdrs and Bn Cmdrs.
    Compare the vehicle type sets to the LAV order that may or may not have been canx and you find a simular pattern.
    For that matter, this order if for an identical vehicle set as the first tank order was.
    And I know for a fact that this is not a re-order, it is a second order. MNSTC-I SAO told me that before these orders were published.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    A little bit of math:
    – Including the 400 and 160 M1117 orders plus existing, ~666 M1117s total. At 40/bn = 16 Bns.
    – 400 M1126s = 10 Bns.
    26 total or 2x 13.
    The INP Div TO/E is four Bdes at three Bns per Bde plus a QRF Bn. 13 bns.
    So what this part of the order looks like is the Revas and the BTR-94s go to other divs, some Revas already are.
    And the M1117s plus Strykers (M1126) go to two Mech Divs, each with:
    – – QRF Bn of Strykers
    – 4x Mech Bdes, each with:
    – – Bn worth of Strykers and
    – – 2x Bns worth of M1117s.
    Unlike the IA, the INP does not do field maint on its armor. They expect to have a station near that they can tow the vehicle to for repair/xfer to depot.
    That is why you see the support elements in the IA orders and not in the INP.
    The IA can’t count on an existing support structure nearby. The IA requires field maint/support capacity that the iNP does not.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Per MNSTC-I SAO:
    Dec14: “The 400 ASVs and 400 Strykers that were notified were for the Army. This is not the ASVs that the Police are buying–they were already notified and the case is already offered. This is separate action in preparation for Army APC buys, the Iraqis have not yet decided but are looking harder now at Strykers and LAVs (LAVs also already notified). They are not looking as hard at the ASV anymore. They are also looking at Romanian APCs…bottom line, not final decisions on APCs made by Iraqi ARMY yet.”
    This means:
    1. The 400 M1117s are possible IA additions (fading possibility) and not a change to the 160 in the previous case for the INP.
    2. The potential strykers represent the 10 apc bns for the two mech divs being equipped with M1s in the IA (already knew the M1 order was second set before the notice was sent to congress, from same source.)
    3. The potential LAVs are not cancelled, that case is still active.
    4. There is also a Romanian APC in contention.
    What the
    – 400 M1117s,
    – 398 LAVs, and
    – 400 Strykers
    in the FMS notices are is part of an MoD/IA APC competition,
    which includes an U/I Romanian APC.
    APC Div sets.
    And none of those cases have been closed.
    They may even end up with a mix, go with more than one type…
    The 160 M1117s from summer for the INP have nothing to do with this latest 400 M1117s for IA. Seperate cases.
    Still looking for data on the helos from MNSTC-I SAO, but this is looking like all new cases, not updates or changes…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    This means that they have the following in competition for APCs for the IA:
    – M1117 (losing interest) – wheeled
    – M1126 Stryker – wheeled
    – LAV-25 – wheeled
    – MLI-84 – tracked (only RO varient comparible)

  • anand says:

    DJ, good luck figuring out what end state procurement to put into the equipment PDF. 😆
    Maybe put a footnote next to these different competing wheeled armored vehicles.
    I’ll look forward to your new best estimates for end 2009 and end 2010 IA equipment.
    I would put 280 M1A1 tanks in the “end 2009” column. I would also put all the T72 tanks (170-250) in the “end 2009” column.
    Aircraft will be tougher to estimate. Most of these new orders should probably go in the end 2010 column or the end state estimate column.

  • anand says:

    The INP using Strykers might be a bit much given their technical complexity and logistics support. The IA is more capable of fielding Strykers.
    DJ, ignoring for a moment what the MoD ultimately decides to buy, which wheeled APC do you think might be the best choice?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Depends on the role/mission.
    – M1117s are good MP/Security vehicles. Good for INP’s primary role.
    – LAV-25 is a good recon vehicle. Good for the Recon Bn/Bdes.
    – M1126 and the Romanian BTR80 varients are basic APCs. Might as well go with cheapest for the differences in capabilities. The extra systems in the M1126 require the tech compentancy and combination of land-warrier to be worth the extra cost. It will be some time before Iraq’s Army is that well educated.
    – You cannot discount potential tracked purchases like the RO MTI-84 either. If I were the IA, I would be going tracked for the Tank and Mech Bdes with wheeled for the cav/recon and security.
    My bet is they go with a mix. Differing vehicles for the differing roles/missions.
    The only reason Stryker is in the mix, is prestege…

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    Looks like the arms industry is really cashing in on this. I too can think of a better rifle than the M-16 AND the AK-47. Its called the Galil, and its one of the best rifles ever made. 7.62mm or 5.56mm, its head and shoulders above the AK.


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