News Desk |
The United States approved $125 million in lieu of technical support for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet. The development comes only days after Prime Minster Imran Khan returned from his maiden visit to the United States.
.@StateDept authorizes a proposed Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to #Pakistan for Technical Security Team (TST) Continued Support of the F-16 Program worth $125 million @StateDeptPM @State_SCA #FMSUpdate–https://t.co/jUThWcz29D
— Political-Military Affairs, US Dept of State (@StateDeptPM) July 26, 2019
The news was announced in a statement by the US Defence Security cooperation Agency after the US State Department approved the proposal. It is now in front of the US Congress for final approval. Even if Congress rejects the request, the administration can still go ahead and provide the requested services.
“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Pakistan for Technical Security Team (TST) in continued support of the F-16 program for an estimated cost of $125 million,” the statement by the DSCA said.
The statement also said that the support program had been prepared at Pakistan’s request. This is a clear indication that this was one of the main points of discussion during PM Khan’s visit to Washington.
“The Government of Pakistan requested a continuation of technical support services; U.S. 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 program. The total estimated program cost is $125 million.”
Pakistan had reportedly ordered 12 F-16 Cs and six F-16 Ds under the “Peace Drive I” program.
Fruits of PM Khan’s visit?
The Trump administration had stopped all military support and foreign military sales after the President said that the US had received nothing but ‘lies and deceit’ from Pakistan. The main accusation was that Pakistan was not helping the US achieve its objectives in Afghanistan.
However, the disagreements over the nature of cooperation seems to have to been removed after PM Khan’s meeting with President Trump in Washington.
The Pakistani Prime Minister had said that he would be meeting Taliban leaders soon to try to convince them to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Afghan Government to bring an end to the long drawn war. President Trump resonded by saying that he would be happy to mediate in Kashmir.
The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the block 15 F-16A/B configuration, in 1982. The country has been operating Lockheed Martin aircraft since 1963, when it received C-130B airlifters.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by protecting US technology through the continued presence of US personnel that provide 24/7 end-use monitoring,” the statement added.
Last February, India had violated Pakistan’s airspace after blaming it for backing perpetrators of the Pulwama attack. The attack only managed to hit a few trees in mountainous region in Pakistan’s north.
However, Pakistan soon responded with airstrikes. Two Indian planes were shot down, with an Indian pilot also being captured. India had raised hue and cry that F-16s sold by America had been used in the operation. Pakistan had denied the charge, later the US and numerous international publications had also backed Pakistan’s version.
The US had also contradicted India’s version of shooting down a Pakistani F-16.
The clause about US personnel providing round the clock end-use monitoring might be a solid system to put any future propaganda of F-16 usage to rest.
The US has also said that the latest F-16 deal will not harm the military balance in the region in anyway.