Days after Imran Khan’s visit, US approves sales to support Pak's F-16 jets
Washington, July 27
Days after the meeting between President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Pentagon has notified the Congress of its decision to approve military sales worth USD 125 million that would result in the monitoring of the F-16 fighter jets of Pakistan.
Essentially, there is no change in the US policy on the security aid to Pakistan which is currently under freeze.
“The Pentagon notification does not reflect any resumption of military assistance to Pakistan. USD 125 million is a paltry amount for aircraft and is only for 24x7 monitoring of the fighter jets,” a diplomatic source told PTI.
This is under the Foreign Military Sale (FMS), which means Pakistan will pay for it. No US tax payers’ money is involved. And this money will essentially be used to pay salary to 60 US contractors to monitor the use of F-16 jets in Pakistan, the source said.
According to a state department official, there has been no change to the security assistance suspension announced by the President in January 2018.
“As the President reiterated this week, we could consider the restoration of certain security assistance programmes consistent with the broader tenor of our relationship,” the official said.
The notification was sent by the Pentagon to the Congress on Friday.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by protecting American technology through the continued presence of US personnel that provide 24x7 end-use monitoring,” he said.
“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for Technical Security Team (TST) in continued support of the F-16 programme for an estimated cost of USD 125 million,” Defence Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.
According to the statement, Pakistan had requested a continuation of technical support services—the US government and contractor technical and logistics support services—and other related elements of logistics support to assist in the oversight of operations in support of the Pakistan Peace Drive advanced F-16 programme.
Pakistan has used the F-16 fighter jets against India, the latest being in the aftermath of the Balakot air strike inside Pakistan by India.
The Pentagon asserted that the proposed sale of this support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
“Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 60 contractor representatives to Pakistan to assist in the oversight of operations as part of the Peace Drive F-16 programme,” the statement said.
According to F-16.Net, the aircraft order by Pakistan was designated as “Peace Drive I”, continuing with a long tradition of naming the F-16 international sales programmes with the word “Peace”.
The programme raised the total number of F-16s ordered by Pakistan to 54. The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the block 15 F-16A/B configuration, in 1982. The country has been operating the Lockheed Martin aircraft since 1963, when it received C-130B airlifters.
The “Peace Drive I” order was for 12 F-16Cs and six F-16Ds, all powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine. PTI