A day after India raked up contract details between the United States and Pakistan on the AMRAAM missile fired from an F-16 aircraft and shared the information with American interlocutors to bolster its case about the misuse of the fighter aircraft against India, the US Saturday sought more information on the matter.
“We are aware of these reports and are seeking more information on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jets by Pakistan against India in violation of the end-user agreement,” PTI quoted US State Department as saying.
Watch | Parts of missile only carried by PAF’s F-16 recovered inside Indian territory: Air Vice Marshal
“Due to non-disclosure agreements in Foreign Military Sales contracts, we cannot discuss the specifics of end user-agreements contained within,” Lt Col Kone Faulkner, a Defense Department spokesperson told PTI.
On Thursday, Indian Air Force (IAF) presented parts of a fired AMRAAM missile — which can only be fired from an F-16 aircraft— as evidence to “conclusively” prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir after India’s anti-terror operation in Balakot.
“There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission and Pakistan is trying to hide this fact. Also, parts of AMRAAM air-to-air missile, which is carried only on the F-16s in PAF, were recovered east of Rajouri within Indian territory,” Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor had said on Thursday at a joint briefing by the armed forces where parts showing the cover and serial number markings were displayed.
Sources had told The Indian Express the contract details and the part of the missile show the use of F-16s in the air strike since the US, which sold the fighter jets to Pakistan, does not allow these platforms to be used in an offensive role.
On Wednesday, Pakistan said that no F-16 fighter jets were used and denied that one of its planes had been downed by the Indian Air Force. It claimed that no F-16 was part of the operation — any such admission would violate US sale conditions of not letting Pakistan use F-16s in an offensive role.
In 2016, India had strongly opposed the US decision to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan, which also could not pass the muster in US Congress for Foreign Military Funding. This meant that the order was never placed.
The United States, which is the largest seller of high-tech defence equipment globally, and has a strong end-user monitoring agreement, as a matter of practice takes all allegations of misuse of defence articles very seriously. But before making any judgement or arriving at any conclusion, it needs to establish some facts on the ground, if there has been any violation by Pakistan to the F-16 end-user agreement it signed by the United States.
F-16 jets were meant to be used to “enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations,” PTI quoted Pentagon’s Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) as saying. Publicly available documents reveal that the US has imposed nearly a dozen restriction on Pakistan related to its use of F-16.
AMRAAM missiles allow a fighter pilot to target an enemy aircraft that is beyond visual range, in day or night, and in all-weather conditions. The AMRAAM has an autonomous guidance capability, which allows the pilot to manoeuvre immediately after the missile’s launch.