Russia will deliver attack helicopters and mobile air-defense systems to Iraq in arms deals worth $4.2 billion signed earlier this year, it was disclosed today during a visit to Moscow by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in which he met his counterpart Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Moscow will supply 30 Mil Mi-28NE night/all-weather capable attack helicopters, and 50 Pantsir-S1 gun-missile short-range air defense systems. The contracts, among the biggest ever signed between Iraq and Russia, were signed in April, July and August by Iraq's acting defense minister, according to documents released on Tuesday during al-Maliki's visit.
Vedomosti daily said the deal was Russia's largest arms deal since 2006.
Arms industry analyst Ruslan Pukhov of the Center for Analysis of Strategy and Technologies, a Moscow-based think tank, said the deal showed Baghdad's desire to break Washington's monopoly of arms supplies to the new government there.
"It's clear that America's influence on Iraq has been excessive. The Shiite government of this country is starting to conduct itself more independently of Washington, and more looking toward Iran," he said.
Pukhov also attributed Russia's success in winning the contracts to the efforts of former Military-Technical Cooperation Service head Mikhail Dmitriyev, who had previously insisted "we must continue to work with Iraq."
Russia recently lost another arms deal tender to supply the Mi-28EN to India, which was won by America's Boeing AH-64 Apache. Iraq has previously signed arms deals with the United States for second-hand Lockheed F-16 fighter jets and other equipment.
Maliki is traveling with Iraq's oil and trade minister as well as the chief of its investment commission, Al Arabiya reported. Earlier this year, Russia's Lukoil won a $100 million exploration contract in Iraq and is developing the huge West Qurna oilfield there.