Hawker Hunter Mark 59

The Hawker Hunter Mark 59 was the designation given to 46 Hunters sold to Iraq during a thaw in relations between that country and Britain in the mid 1960s.

Iraq had first received the Hunter in 1957 when sixteen F.Mark 6s had been provided from RAF stocks using American funding. These aircraft may have played a part in the July 1958 coup that overthrew King Faisal II and put in place a left-wing government led by Brigadier General Abdul Karim Qassim. Qassim moved Iraq closer to the Soviet Union, and as a result arms sales from Britain came to an end.

Qassim was overthrown in February 1963 and replaced by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif. He was more acceptable to the west, and his government was able to successfully negotiate the purchase of more Hunters. The first order was for fifteen ex-RAF F.Mk 6s, to be delivered as the F.G.A.Mk 59. This order was soon increased to twenty-four aircraft, and was followed by a second aircraft for eighteen similar aircraft, to be delivered as the F.G.A.Mk 59A between November 1965 and May 1967. At the same time an order was placed for four aircraft to be delivered as F.R.Mk.59Bs between May and September 1966. This gave Iraq a total of 46 newly converted ground attack aircraft and sixteen fighter aircraft, as well as five T.Mk.59s.

The Iraqi Hunters fought in the Six Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, in both cases operating as top cover for other aircraft flying ground attack missions. They were also used as ground attack aircraft during the Yom Kippur War and during early stages of the Iran-Iraq War, where they are believed to have dropped chemical weapons.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 April 2010), Hawker Hunter Mark 59 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hawker_hunter_59.html

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