So says Doug Farah in a new post over at his blog. Farah states that Kellogg, Brown and Root are still using the Bout system in Iraq despite public protestations that all the contracts were cancelled. Regular TYR readers will recall that this should come as no surprise: back when they first said the contracts had been cut off, a source informed me that Falcon Express were still operating in Iraq and still chartering An12 and Il76 aircraft from the network. On the 13th of January, I blogged that BGIA were operating a nightly Sharjah-Baghdad service, according to Sharjah Airport. Indeed, it certainly looks like somebody powerful is determined to keep using our friend's services. According to Farah this has gone even to the point of rejecting respectable operators who have submitted lower bids.
Now, I can hardly think of any explanation for that other than either corruption in the contracting process or some sort of scheme to reimburse Bout for other, secret, services with contracts in Iraq. The first option is to be preferred as the simplest explanation, of course. The story does not seem to show any signs of clearing up. In an email, Farah informs me that an intelligence source tells him that the Irbis flights to Yemen mentioned downblog were "not significant" because they weren't heavy-lift aircraft. What they are, then, remains unknown.
Update, 03/02/05 1149Z
Apparently they are none other than Irbis's fleet of ex-Air Bas Ilyushin 18s, aircraft that have cropped up in reports into Viktor's activities for years now. I'd have thought Il18s were significant, myself.