Iraq’s An-32B bomber

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Photos of an Iraqi air force An-32B transport aircraft carrying a bomb on an external pylon appeared on social media in late July, fueling speculation.

In late December 2009, Baghdad inked a $2.5 billion arms deal with Ukraine. The contract included 420 BTR-4 APCs, repair work on Mi-8T helicopters and six Antonov An-32B light military transport aircraft.

Like most Antonovs, the An-32B is a rugged multipurpose transport aircraft that can operate in various climate conditions, and most importantly in hot climate up to 50 degrees Celsius.

Antonov halted work on the An-32Bs in 2011 due to late payments. At that time, three of the six aircraft were complete and were ready to be supplied to the Iraqi Air Force, while two more aircraft were in production.

As ISIS started to expand in 2014, the Iraqi Air Force felt the need for air support which was lacking at the time. The F-16s that were ordered from the US were not delivered yet, and their delivery was postponed by Washington due to the rapid ISIS advance around Baghdad. The Iraqi and Ukrainian technicians installed bomb racks on the available An-32Bs. The racks had the capability to carry bombs weighing up to 500 pounds. A NKPB-7 bomb sights was also installed on the planes.

A second Iraqi An-32B had its cargo rails modified with a removable roller conveyor. The conveyor could fit four 500-pound bombs. This modification also had appeared earlier   on Indian Air Force An-32s.

The An-32Bs have not been seen in any bombing campaign until now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were never used.