The deliveries of Russian Mi-28NE Night Hunter to Baghdad are to begin in September 2013, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in an interview with Interfax. The contract for the purchase of ten helicopters was included in the package of agreements in the amount of $4.2 billion," said the Iraqi prime minister.
When asked what other weapons Russia is to supply in accordance with the contracts, al-Maliki mentioned air defense systems, but did not specify which ones exactly.
The news about the supplies of Mi-28NE Night Hunter helicopters to Iraq, arrived from a source in the Russian defense complex. During the June air show in Le Bourget, deputy head of Russia's defense export giant Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheyev, confirmed the information.
There are no problems in the implementation of last year's contracts for the supplies of Russian military hardware to Iraq, the Prime Minister of Iraq said. "The cost of the contracts makes up $4.2 billion. All of them have been signed, all are being executed - there are no problems," - he added.
The press service of the Russian government informed about the signing of contracts between Moscow and Baghdad in the sphere of defense cooperation on the threshold of al-Maliki's previous visit to Russia in October 2012. Later it was reported that the contracts provided for the sale of 30 attack helicopters Mi-28N and 42 anti-aircraft missile and gun systems Pantsir-S1.
Afterwards, Iraqi officials said that the value of the contracts was considerably overestimated. In November 2012, Iraqi government spokesman Ali Mousavi said that the Iraqi government had terminated the contracts because of suspicions of corruption. However, the Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi denied the report. The Minister stated that the government was just too late in submitting information about the transaction to the country's anti-corruption committee.
In February 2013, General Director of Rosoboronexport, Anatoly Isaykin confirmed that the contracts were signed, but not yet in force.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that the arms contracts between Russia and Iraq had not come into force yet because of financial difficulties of the Iraqi side. "I think it's a question of distribution of money. One should pay in advance. Now we are in a political crisis. Our budget for 2013 has not been approved by the parliament," said the Minister.
Now Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says that Iraq and Russia may sign new defense contracts. "Perhaps there will be new contracts signed so that we could protect the sovereignty of the state," he said in an interview.
According to the Prime Minister, all of Iraq's weapons were destroyed during the past conflicts. The country needs more weapons and hardware, and even the new contracts are not enough.
He also stated that Iraq had a long history of relations with Russia in this area, and that Iraqi military knew how to use Russian weapons. "Therefore, despite the fact that we buy weapons from other countries, Russian weapons are still preferable," he said.