Adam Entous and Nathan Hodge
WSJ Online
September 27, 2011

WASHINGTON—Iraq has finalized a deal to buy advanced U.S. fighter jets, the first step toward building a modern postwar air force, officials said.

Iraq has yet to publicly announce completion of the deal to buy 18 F-16s, but officials in Washington said an initial payment of $1.5 billion has been received.

The deal is considered sensitive in Iraq, and the Pentagon and State Department have declined to comment until Baghdad makes a formal announcement. Iraq had plans to buy the planes earlier this year, but froze them for a time following the Arab Spring protests across the region.

The decision by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to go forward with the purchase followed an unexpected surge in government oil revenue, officials said.

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