The US State Department has approved an $800 million sustainment deal for Iraq's fleet of C-130E and C-130J cargo aircraft, the government announced Tuesday.

The proposed five-year agreement would cover "operational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance, spare and repair parts, support equipment, repair and return, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support," according to a notice posted on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

The contract would be handled by Lockheed Martin, which produces the popular C-130 family of aircraft.

The DSCA announcement notes that the sustainment package is needed to "allow the Iraq Air Force to continue operating its C-130E/J aircraft beyond 2015. The IAFs limited maintenance capability necessitates the need for continued contractor logistics support."

Notably, the announcement also highlights how the Iraq Air Force uses the planes "to provide humanitarian relief operations in various locations." The government of Iraq is embroiled in a civil war with the Islamic State group, and both US and Iraqi cargo transports have been used to drop key supplies to forces and civilians impacted by the fight.

As with all sales announced by DSCA, the agreement is not final. It still requires congressional approval; assuming that occurs, the contract will need to be negotiated by both parties.

Observers do not have to look far for an example of that occurring. An agreement with Iraq for 24 Apache AH-64E helicopters, announced in January, fell through after the US made an offer that was never responded to by the Iraqi government.

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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