“We will take as many as they are willing to give,” said a diplomatic source when asked how many of these aircraft Pakistan was seeking. — File Photo

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is trying to purchase used F-16 fighter jets from the United States to enhance its air capabilities, diplomatic sources told. “We will take as many as they are willing to give,” said a diplomatic source when asked how many of these aircraft Pakistan was seeking.

In 2006, the US Congress agreed to give Pakistan 28 F-16C/Ds under its EDA or excess defence articles initiative. Fourteen of these aircraft have already been delivered.

These are the same that Pakistan purchased from the United States in the 1980s but EDA equipment is almost cost-free. Some of these aircraft are used for extracting serviceable parts for the existing fleet while those fit for overhauling are inducted into the air force. “Because of the disparity with India, our needs are huge,” said the diplomatic source. “Ideally, we should buy new F-16s but the current economy does not allow us to pay $40-50 million a piece.”

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a lightweight, compact fighter aircraft designed to perform a wide range of military missions. More than 4,000 F-16s have been or will be produced for 24 nations worldwide.

Meanwhile, the US media quoted Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman as saying that while negotiating with the US for more aircraft, Pakistan was simultaneously developing its defence manufacturing capability to reduce its reliance on America.

According to these reports, he told an air chiefs' conference in Melbourne, Australia, that he had made a concerted effort to increase the manufacturing capability of Pakistan's defence industry because the country has been subject to sanctions and embargoes in the past.

When asked about data links to tie F-16s to JF-17s, Air Chief Marshal Qamar said that Pakistan was working to develop its own solution.

“We have Link 16 on the F-16s. We will not fiddle with Link 16 and not have direct linkages [between the JF-17s] with the F-16,” he said. Pakistan also has different types of airborne early warning and control (AEW and C) aircraft.

Besides AEW and C aircraft, the air force chief said, “We are talking to some western companies about tankers too.”

When asked if Pakistan would like to be part of the Chengdu J-20, fifth-generation fighter programme, the air chief said: “We don't have any involvement in this development so far. This seems to be an indigenous effort and we will keenly watch it. Obviously, China is a very good friend.” But it will be years before the J-20 becomes operational in the Chinese air force, he added.

Opinion

Danger lurks
27 Sep 2021

Danger lurks

The colonial mindset continues to percolate.
Dance of death
Updated 27 Sep 2021

Dance of death

India is happily flirting with extermination.
Climate of change
Updated 26 Sep 2021

Climate of change

The world faces a climate emergency as the toll on people’s lives and livelihoods keeps growing.

Editorial

Phasing out coal
Updated 27 Sep 2021

Phasing out coal

Move affords Pakistan an opportunity to renegotiate its deals with Beijing to convert them into cheaper, clean energy projects.
27 Sep 2021

Poor online score

A RECENT report by Freedom House, the US-based watchdog that assesses democratic trends around the world, has placed...
27 Sep 2021

Child’s mental capacity

CONVERTING to another faith is one of the most consequential decisions an individual can make in their lifetime. It...
Updated 26 Sep 2021

Intransigent Taliban

PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan has delivered an effective speech at the UN General Assembly session detailing the salient...
26 Sep 2021

Deadly misinformation

THE distinction between ‘fake’ and ‘authentic’ news is now a concept impossible to escape. In an...
26 Sep 2021

Covid arrests

THE unilateral decision taken by Karachi’s East Zone police to arrest citizens without Covid vaccination cards ...