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U.S. agrees to sell new F-16s to Pakistan

March 26, 2005 (by PAF-Viper) - Fifteen years after blocking sales of F-16s to Pakistan due to its nuclear weapons program, the U.S. government approved the sale of 24 new F-16s to Pakistan. The aircraft are rumored to be block 52 models.

Pakistani F-16A #82702 over the Indus river, near Attock. Note the standard PAF F-16 color scheme. [Photo by Saeed Ahmed Siddique]

In 1990, the U.S. halted the production of a third & fourth batch of F-16s ordered by Pakistan, due to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. 40 F-16A/B aircraft had been delivered under the Peace Gate I & II programs, however none of the Peace Gate III & IV aircraft were delivered.

28 F-16A/B block 15OCU aircraft that had already been built were embargoed and were stored at the AMARC at Davis Monthan AFB. Attempts to sell these aircraft to other countries such as New Zealand were not successful, and finally these aircraft were split between the USAF and US Navy and used in the aggressor role.

Fifteen years later, Pakistan finally received the go-ahead on March 25th, 2005, to order 24 additional F-16s, as an explicit reward for General Pervez Musharraf's support in the war on terror.

The F-16s are rumored to be block 52 aircraft, and the number of aircraft (currently stated as 24) could still change. The PAF hopes, eventually, to procure 71 new Block 52 F-16s. The total desire is to have 111 F-16s in its inventory in the next 10 years.

Furthermore, the US has agreed to give the current PAF block 15 F-16s the Mid-Life Update (MLU), which is expected to commence in 2006.

The U.S. government also pointed out that it would "respond positively" to an Indian request for information on a bid for F-16s, F-18s or other aircraft.

Implications for Lockheed Martin

The decision to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan is likely to be as warmly greeted in Fort Worth as it is in Karachi.

That's because Lockheed Martin Corp. has said it needs new orders for the jet before this fall, or it will have to take action to close the production line there that employs about 5,000 workers.

The company currently has back orders for about 200 aircraft and the last one should come off the line in 2008.

Lockheed's F-16 production line has been "saved" before, in 1992 when the administration of President George H.W. Bush announced the sale of 150 F-16s to Taiwan.

Despite the concerns Indian officials expressed about news of the sale to Pakistan, the prospect of both countries buying F-16s is quite positive. "Two countries that have F-16s have never fought a war," said Richard Aboulafia, an aircraft analyst with the Teal Group.

Share your opinion:Timeline of events:
  • 23 December 1981 Pakistan orders 40 F-16s (Peace Gate I&II) becoming the 9th customer.
  • 17 May 1986 A Pakistani F-16 shoots down a Su-22 of the Afghan Air Force, making Pakistan the second country after Israel to put F-16s into military action.
  • 11 December 1988 Pakistan orders 11 F-16s (Peace Gate III).
  • 05 September 1989 Pakistan orders 60 F-16s (Peace Gate IV).
  • 06 October 1990 The US embargoes F-16 deliveries to Pakistan, and a total of 28 Pakistan F-16A/B Block 15OCU aircraft are put in flyable hold storage in the Sonoran desert.
  • 10 April 1992 First Pakistani aircraft: F-16A (#90-943) and F-16B (#90-948) arrive at AMARC under designations AAFG0001 & AAFG0002. They are the first of 28 Peace Gate III & IV aircraft to be embargoed.
  • 02 June 2002 Pakistani F-16 shot down 1 Indian Searcher II UAV.
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