Pakistan will buy F-16 fighter jets from Jordan
After Pakistan's F-16 fighter jets failed to fall through with US, now Pakistan is considering buying them from Jordan. These jets will be of an older version Block-30 variant than the Block-52s that Pakistan would have received from the United States. Some of Pakistan's fleet of F-16 jets will get decommissioned in the upcoming years hence Pakistan is now looking to buy from Jordan.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multi-role single-engine fighter plane which was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) by General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin). Since its approval in 1976, F-16 successfully evolved from an air-superiority day fighter to all-weather multirole aircraft, and over 4,500 F-16s have been built. The USAF doesn't purchase F-16s anymore; however, improvised versions are made for export customers.
Pakistan received the first batch of the F-16 fighter jets from the US in 1983. During the 1986-89 Soviet-Afghan War, Pakistan Air Force had first used the F-16s to shoot down Afghani intruders.
It was reported that the US administration was preparing to sell eight F-16 fighters to Pakistan to secure the ties between both the nations. The US Congress was notified only days ago regarding the proposed sale of fighters to Pakistan, and it had the right to veto the deal if necessary. The decision was announced ahead of Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif's visit to Washington.
The US Congress had stalled the sale of eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The US administration had received a 'hold' order from the Senate to delay the proposed sale. US lawmakers had questioned about the end-use of F-16 and the US-Pakistan relationship. However, the Senate's order didn't cancel the proposed sale, and it could be approved if administration pushed for it.
Disappointed over the US' decision to continue the sale of F-16 fighters to Pakistan, the Centre had summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma to express its displeasure. India was upset that approving the $700-million-deal meant that India's protests over the issue went disregarded. Authorities stated that India would take the matter to the Obama administration as the deal would strengthen Pakistan's ability to attack India.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher expressed Congress' disapproval over the F-16 deal with Pakistan by introducing a joint resolution in the House of Representatives. Despite opposition from India and US lawmakers, the US government had formally notified about the F-16 deal with Pakistan. In the federal notification, it was stated that the deal would help strengthen the security of a strategic South Asian partner.
The US Senate had rejected a bill to withdraw the $700-million-deal despite opposition from US lawmakers. Mehran Marri, the UNHRC and EU representative of Balochistan, had opposed the US' decision to sell fighter jets to Pakistan as it might use them against Balochistan. US ensured that an end-use monitoring system was put in place so that Pakistan would use the military-aid to fight terrorism.
The US State Department has made it clear that it would no longer subsidize the $700-million-deal of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. It means that if Pakistan wishes to buy the fighters it would have to pay over $700 million (two-and-a-half times the subsidized cost). The decision was taken after the US Congress has refused to sanction funding for the deal.
Following the US' decision on the F-16 deal, Pakistan disagreed and said that US should help them as they need the fighters for counter-terror operations. Several lawmakers accused Pakistan of not fighting terrorism; they felt the fighters would be used to attack India and not combat terrorism. The US State Department stated that it wouldn't use tax-payers' money to subsidize eight F-16s to Pakistan.
Sartaj Aziz-Foreign affairs adviser to Nawaz Sharif stated that they would get fighter jets from elsewhere if the US doesn't provide funding. Practically, US' stand on the F-16 deal makes it difficult for Pakistan to buy eight F-16 fighters worth $700 million. Aziz added that Pakistan valued F-16s for their effectiveness but, they could use JF-17 Thunder jets as well in the anti-terrorism campaign.
Reportedly, JF-17 Thunder fighters would soon become Pakistan Air Force's backbone. JF-17 is developed jointly by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Aviation Industry Corporation of China. JF-17s could be used for ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and aircraft interception.
Pakistan's foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said that "Pakistan needs modern F-16 fighter jets for the war against terrorism" but won't accept the conditions the US has appended with the deal. He said that since the jets would be used to fight terrorism, no conditions should be attached. Chaudhry explained that diplomatic efforts were still underway to convince the US to subsidise the sale.