11 March 2016
Every Friday, Quwa offers coverage and short-form analysis of various news topics. It can be a challenge to offer in-depth reporting for every interesting news piece, so we invite you, our readers, to engage and share with us your knowledge and insights on issues and topics that interest you the most.
Be sure to get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter!
Pakistan F-16 sale crosses through Senate, but subsidies are on hold
In a 71-24 vote, the U.S. Senate has opted to let the Pakistan F-16 sale (of eight Block-52+ for $700 million) move through, but the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) element was put on hold.
The vote was called by Senator Rand Paul, who argued that the sale should not go through on account that Pakistan was not firm enough in its support of U.S. interests in terms of Afghanistan.
Although the sale passed, the FMF component, which would have covered almost half of the sale, put on hold. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland put a hold on the FMF in hopes of looking to “encourage behavior changes” in Pakistan.
Corker was referring to having Pakistan intensify its campaign against the so-called Haqqani-network along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
However, Corker still believed that an actual sale of F-16s should continue, otherwise Pakistan would likely pursue alternatives, which could reduce U.S. leverage in Islamabad.
In the absence of FMF, it is unclear how many of the new F-16s the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) will procure. According to Sartaj Aziz, the PAF had hoped to acquire 18 additional new-built F-16s, but funds “saved” from previous FMF installments only permitted eight.
It is possible that the PAF was counting on fresh FMF support as a means to push for another batch of F-16s in the short-term. Given the fact that the F-16s are a key foreign policy tool for the U.S. in its efforts to maintain its relationship with Pakistan, it is unlikely that FMF for the F-16s will be blocked indefinitely.
Dassault still committed selling Rafale fighters to India
According to Dassault chairman Eric Trappier, the company is in the “final phase” of its negotiations with India over the sale of 36 Rafale multi-role fighters.
Price was the stumbling block ahead of a finalized sale, but Dassault is hopeful that India will not only order the 36 Rafale fighters, but that they would be an initial batch.
If the Indian Air Force (IAF) were to order another 90 aircraft, Dassault would gladly partner with the Indian defence industry across numerous areas in order to fulfil the IAF requirement.
Given the high-cost of inducting a new platform, and the reality that the Rafale was chosen for the IAF’s original MMRCA tender, it is likely – after signing the initial sale – that the IAF will request follow-on batches of the Rafale.
Meanwhile, other vendors – namely Saab, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin – are looking to capitalize upon the apparent uncertainty in the Rafale deal. Using the Indian government’s “Make in India” initiative, Saab et. al are promising to manufacture in India should the IAF select their respective aircraft.
Britain and France finalize landmark UCAV development program
Britain and France agreed to spend $2.2 billion U.S. in developing a new unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator, which could be developed into an operational system by the 2030s.
A feasibility study will be conducted by the end of October, at which point the French and the British will agree upon the UCAV’s dimensions (e.g. size) as well as its powerplant.
The UCAV program is being billed by both government as “the most advanced of its kind in Europe.”
The Anglo-Franco UCAV will likely be very similar in scope to the Northrop Grumman X-47B demonstrator, which was developed as part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration program.