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F-16s meant for Pakistan given to US forces

January 5, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The 28 F-16 planes that Pakistan bought in the 1980's from the United States but never received, because the US Congress withheld them to punish Pakistan for secretly developing nuclear weapons , are now being transferred to the United States Navy and Air Force, said the New York Times.
After joining US-led war against terrorism following Sept 11 attacks, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf had pleaded with the US President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to give the planes to Pakistan as a gesture of newly-established friendship, but the administration balked.

The US feared that the F-16s could be used in a war between India and Pakistan at a time when tensions between the two south Asian neighbours were at an all time high.

Pakistan was essentially given soybean oil in exchange for the money given by Pakistan to purchase the planes.

The NYT said the planes being inducted in the US Navy and Air Force could be used in the second Gulf war against Iraq. If it were not for the situation in the Gulf some 4,400 decommissioned airplanes would have been destroyed or sold to some other country.

The paper said scores of Vietnam-era F-4 Phantoms were being refurbished for duty as remote-control drones that Air Force fighters would use for target practice. Aging B-52's, whose engines, avionics and landing gear have been picked clean, have been sold for scrap at 25 cents a pound. Seats, throttles and other memorabilia end up on eBay website for auction.

The war in Afghanistan and the brewing conflict in the Persian Gulf have stepped up the military's need for spare parts and given the "Boneyard", officially the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Centre, a role in the war against terror. Electronic and engine parts for Navy F-16s are in specially high demand, US officials told the NYT.