WASHINGTON, Feb 13: Pakistan will start receiving weapons from the United States under a $1.2 billion arms package by the end of this year, official sources told Dawn. The production of these weapons has already started, they added.
The package, announced in mid November, includes eight P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft, six Phalanx close-in weapon systems and an ammunition complement of 2,000 TOW-2A missiles and 14 TOW-2A Fly-to-Buy missiles.
The P-3 Orions are valued at $970 million, the Phalanx systems at $155 million and the missiles at $82 million. This is the first major sale of US military hardware to Pakistan since Washington lifted sanctions and named Islamabad a major non-NATO ally last year.
Pakistan, however, has not yet succeeded in getting the nod for the big ticket item - the F-16 fighter planes - it has been seeking for long. But there have been recent developments that may boost Pakistan's efforts to get the aircraft.
The most interesting development in this regard is India's proclaimed interest in buying the F-16s. The other favourable development for Pakistan is a report from Lockheed Martin, which manufactures F-16s, that it may be forced to close its plant in President Bush's home state of Texas if the US administration does not agree to sell F-16s to Islamabad. The manufacturers, according to congressional sources, have already passed this information to some members of the US House of Representatives.