- The idea was to use these planes to fight the Soviet and Afghan jets that crossed the border to bomb mujahideen training camps.
- War on the Rocks, a website about foreign policy and national security, said that Pakistani F-16s shot down at least 10 Afghan and Soviet jets, helicopters, and transport planes between 1986 and 1990.
The Biden administration in the US has given the go-ahead for a deal that could be worth up to $450 million to sell Pakistan maintenance and related equipment for upgrading its fleet of F-16 fighter planes.
The deal, on the other hand, won’t include “any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions” for Pakistan’s main fighter plane, the JF-17, even though they have more of them.
In 2019, Pakistan used the same plane to attack India after the Balakot attack. They used an AIM-120 C-5 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) supplied by the United States to shoot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG 21 Bison.
At the time, these missiles were better than the medium-range R-77 used by the Su-30 MKI and the MICA used by the Mirages of the Indian Air Force.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency sent the required certification to Congress on Wednesday, telling them about the possible sale. This came after Pakistan asked to combine previous F-16 sustainment and support cases to help keep the Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 fleet in good shape.
The US government and contractors will provide engineering, technical, and logistics services for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet as part of the upgrade. It also includes changes to and support for the hardware and software of aircraft and engines, as well as the repair and return of jets and engine parts, classified and unclassified software, and support for software.
The Pentagon’s statement also said that the proposed sale would help the US meet its foreign policy and security goals by letting Pakistan “retain interoperability with US and partner forces” in its fight against terrorism and in preparation for future emergency operations.
It also said that the proposed sale would continue to maintain the country’s F-16 fleet, which “greatly improves Pakistan’s ability to support counterterrorism operations through its strong air-to-ground capability.”
History of Pakistan’s F-16s journey
The upgrade is part of the US military’s help to Pakistan. Since the 1980s, the US has sold and upgraded F-16s, even though Pakistan openly backs the Taliban and the Haqqani network and uses terrorism against India as a state policy.
After the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the US agreed to sell F-16 jets to Pakistan in 1981.
The idea was to use these planes to fight the Soviet and Afghan jets that crossed the border to bomb mujahideen training camps. War on the Rocks, a website about foreign policy and national security, said that Pakistani F-16s shot down at least 10 Afghan and Soviet jets, helicopters, and transport planes between 1986 and 1990.
In the 1990s, however, the programme failed because of American worries about Pakistan’s nuclear programme. This caused Washington to delay sending 28 F-16s to Pakistan, for which Pakistan had already paid about $658 million.
Things changed again when Pakistan joined the American war on terror after 9/11. The US sold 18 advanced Block 52 F-16s and targeting pods and electronic warfare pods for about $1.4 billion.
Not only that, but the US also sold 53 of Pakistan’s older F-16s mid-life upgrade kits that made them as good as the Block 52 version of the plane. War on the Rocks said that Pakistan’s fighter planes were fixed up by Turkey, which also flies the F-16 jet.