According to Pakistani sources, Pakistan’s Air Force has purchased one squadron of F-16 multi-role fighter aircraft from Jordan. The 13 F-16s were in service in the Royal Jordanian Air Force and will be inducted into the Pakistani air force next month. The deal has been finalized, approved by both countries, as well as the United States. The 13 aircraft are the same F-16 A/B Block-15 variant that Pakistan’s Air Force already operates.
The purchase brings the Pakistan Air Force’s total F-16 count to 76. According to Defense Industry Daily, the Royal Jordanian Air Force’s F-16 MLUs (Mid-Life Update) were bought from Belgium and the Netherlands. The set sold to Pakistan is from a separate set of F-16s in use by the Jordanian Air Force. “This set being sold is from the 33-plane Peace Falcon I/II purchases of F-16 ADFs in 1997 and 2003,” according to Defense Industry Daily. The ADF variant–ADF standing for Air Defense Fighter–is more suited for dogfighting, air superiority, and interception.
Pakistan’s The News International cites “well-placed defense sources” as confirming that the purchased aircraft were in good condition and could serve for up to another 20 years, with about 3,000 flying hours available to them. The deal was set up between Pakistan and Jordan a year ago when Pakistan’s Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Tahir Rafiq Butt visited Jordan to pursue the deal. The total amount Pakistan paid for the aircraft is not known at this point, but Defense Industry Daily speculates that Jordan likely made a profit on the sale of the aircraft.
The Jordanian F-16 purchase is the latest step in the Pakistani Air Force’s ongoing efforts to bulk up its fleet. Another example of this is Pakistan and China’s joint development of the JF-17 Thunder aircraft, which is also being incorporated into the Pakistan Air Force.
Overall, the F-16 is one of the most important components of the Pakistan Air Force, originally introduced to the air force in the 1980s, during the Cold War. The United States provided Pakistan with an initial batch of F-16s before nuclear sanctions came into force as a result of the Pressler amendment. In the 1990s, a series of F-16 aircraft were embargoed despite Pakistan having paid for them. Currently, the U.S. and Pakistan are discussing additional upgrades and weapons purchases for Pakistan’s existing F-16 fleet. The Pakistani government has shown interest in advanced medium range air-to-air missiles, short range air-to-air missiles, joint direct attack munition, and bunker-buster bombs.