The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on Friday that it had approved a possible $125 million sale to support Pakistan’s F-16 fighters. The sale, if approved by U.S. lawmakers, would also extend U.S. end-use monitoring of Pakistan’s F-16s.
“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,” the DSCA release noted. The announcement came days after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, accompanied by the country’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, visited the White House for a bilateral summit.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by protecting U.S. technology through the continued presence of U.S. personnel that provide 24/7 end-use monitoring,” the DSCA released also noted. The proposed sale does not include the transfer of any new armaments for Pakistan’s existing fleet of F-16s.
According to an anonymous U.S. Department of State spokesperson who spoke to India’s PTI news agency, the newly proposed sale does not mark a change in the Trump administration’s policy of freezing security assurance to Pakistan. Last year, the United States suspended coalition support fund reimbursements for Pakistan and other major military assistance.
“There has been no change to the security assistance suspension announced by the President in January 2018. As the President reiterated this week, we could consider the restoration of certain security assistance programs consistent with the broader tenor of our relationship,” a state department spokesperson told PTI.
For the implementation of the proposed sale, 60 contractors will be sent to Pakistan “to assist in the oversight of operations as part of the Peace Drive F-16 program.” Concerns over Pakistan’s use of its F-16s arose earlier this year when an air-to-air missile launched from a Pakistani fighter downed Indian military aircraft during the February crisis between New Delhi and Islamabad.
The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16 from the United States in 1982. Today, the PAF possesses 76 F-16s in its inventory.
As the support for Pakistan’s F-16 program was announced, DSCA also announced a $670 million sale of “sustainment follow-on support” for India’s C-17 transport aircraft.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the mobility capabilities of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the announcement of that sale noted.