Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pakistan gets new fighter planes F-16 from US

With an eye to India, Pakistan Monday received the last of 18 F-16 fighter jets from the US.

The Dawn reports the primary consideration for purchasing the new aircraft was to improve the fighting capability of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) vis-à-vis the Indian Air Force.

The last F-16D Block 52 aircraft as well as the first two of the upgraded fighter jets have arrived in the country.
The fighter aircraft is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics suite and latest weapons with night precision attack capability.

"One F-16D Block 52 and two F-16 Block 15 MLU (Mid Life Upgrade) aircraft arrived today from the US at PAF Base Shahbaz (Jacobabad)," PAF said in a statement.

"The arrival of last F-16D Block 52 aircraft marked the completion of delivery of 18 aircraft of this category. The other two F-16 Block 15 aircraft ... were earlier sent to USA for Mid Life Upgrade," it further said.

The F-16 programme included purchase of 18 new jets, upgrade of 35 older aircraft and those purchased from the US under Excess Defence Articles (EDA) programme, and procurement of munitions.

The F-16 aircraft sale to Pakistan was announced in 2005.

WikiLeaks expose of leaked US diplomatic cables show that the deal was meant to assuage Pakistan's fears of an "existential threat it perceived from India".

The diplomatic cables suggest that the purpose of the sale was to divert Pakistan's attention from "the nuclear option", and give it "time and space to employ a conventional reaction" in the event of a conflict with India.

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