The United States Friday approved the foreign military sales worth $125 million to support the F-16 fighter jets of Pakistan. The development comes days after the meeting between US President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Oval Office at the White House on Monday where both sides had declared that the meeting was highly successful.
The determination in this regard was made by the State Department and is the first after all security aid to Pakistan was suspended by Trump in January 2018.
“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 program for an estimated cost of $125 million,” Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement, according to the news agency PTI.
The statement also read: “Pakistan had requested a continuation of technical support services — 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.”
The Pentagon delivered the required certification notifying the Congress of this possible sale on Friday. The Pentagon, in its report, said the proposed sale of this support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the US by protecting American technology through the continued presence of US personnel that provide 24×7 end-use monitoring.”
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“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 program,” the statement read.
Pakistan has been receiving F-16 fighters from the US since the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was the US President and Zia was the military dictator of Pakistan. An F-16 aircraft cost at least $18.8 million per unit with an operational cost per flight hour of up to $24,000. With a wingspan of 31 feet, the aircraft can attain a maximum speed of 1500 miles per hours.
In April 2016, while Pakistan was about to receive 8 F-16 jets, US Congressman Matt Salmon had expressed apprehensions about their use against India, rather than terrorist camps.
Pakistan had, in February this year, used F-16 against India, the latest being in the aftermath of the Balakot airstrike inside Pakistan by India. However, it had denied it saying it never used American F-16s in its attempted airstrike on military installations in the Rajouri sector. After this, as a proof, India had presented parts of a fired AMRAAM missile which can only be fired from an F-16 aircraft.