Procurement: How To Ruin An F-16



September 7, 2008: Iraq wants to buy 36 U.S. F-16 fighters. Older models can be had for under $50 million each, while the latest versions go for about $75 million. It would take at least five years to train Iraqi pilots and ground crews to effectively use and maintain such aircraft. Even then, there will probably be problems. The historical experience has been that, in Arab countries, buying such high tech warplanes, run into personnel problems. Pilots are often selected more for their loyalty to the government, than for their flying skills. Ground crew jobs pay well, and are sometimes given out at gifts to loyal supporters of whoever is running the government at the moment. As a result, the high-tech aircraft tend to be flown by substandard pilots, and not available for operations (because of poor maintenance) as much as in Western air forces.

The U.S. government has to approve this purchase which, given the recession going on in the United States, may be difficult to turn down.