(Reuters) - Iraq will receive the first 24 of 36 F-16 fighter jets it has ordered from the United States at the beginning of 2014, a senior official told Reuters on Sunday.
Under deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq's air force was one of the largest in the region with hundreds of mainly Soviet-designed jets. Its military was disbanded after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Last July, Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki doubled the number of warplanes Iraq had initially planned to buy to strengthen an air force neglected during a protracted period when the country relied on U.S. air support.
Iskander Witwit, the deputy head of parliament's security and defense committee, said that the first 24 planes would make up two air force squadrons.