As the United States’ first significant security aid to Islamabad in four years, the Biden administration has approved a USD 450 million F-16 fighter aircraft fleet sustainment plan for Pakistan to help it confront current and future counterterrorism threats. For failing to crack down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and destroy their safe havens in the nation, Donald Trump, Biden’s predecessor, withheld roughly USD 2 billion in security assistance to Islamabad in 2018.
The State Department announced on Wednesday that it has approved a potential foreign military sale of F-16 cases for sustainment and related equipment for an estimated cost of USD 450 million. The State Department argued that this will maintain Islamabad’s capability to meet present and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet.
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On Wednesday, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency submitted the necessary certification informing Congress of this potential transaction. “The Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 programme is being supported by a planned Foreign Military Sales case, which the US administration has informed Congress about. As part of a long-standing policy, the US offers life cycle maintenance and sustainment packages for US-origin equipment, and Pakistan is a crucial counterterrorism partner “a representative for the State Department stated.
“The larger bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan includes an essential role for Pakistan’s F-16 programme. By preserving its F-16 aircraft, the proposed sale will maintain Pakistan’s capacity to respond to both present and future terrorist threats. We anticipate Pakistan to take consistent action against all terrorist organisations and support counterterrorism operations with its F-16 fleet “added the official.
The Congressional notice states that no new capabilities, weapons, or ammunition are included in the proposed transaction. It stated that Pakistan had asked to combine earlier F-16 sustainment and support cases in order to serve the F-16 fleet of the Pakistan Air Force by removing redundant case operations and include more continuing support components.
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According to the Pentagon, this planned sale will help the US achieve its foreign policy and national security goals by preserving Pakistan’s capacity to work with US and ally troops in existing counterterrorism operations and in the planning of upcoming contingency operations. “The planned sale will help maintain Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, whose strong air-to-ground capabilities significantly enhances Pakistan’s capacity to assist counterterrorism operations. These goods and services would be easily absorbed by Pakistan’s military forces “It read. The planned sale of this assistance and equipment, according to the Congressional notification, won’t change the overall military balance in the area.