Although Congress has permitted to let the proposed sale of eight F-16C/D Block-52+ to pass, it has decided to block Foreign Military Financing (FMF). Pakistan’s F-16 sale will not be subsidized.
John Kirby, spokesman of the U.S. State Department, said, “Given congressional objectives, we have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose.”
Although it was not said in response to this latest round of news, Syed Tariq Fatemi, special assistant on foreign affairs to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said Congress’ refusal to release FMF support betrayed “a lack of sufficient appreciation for Pakistan’s whole-hearted efforts it was undertaking jointly with the U.S. administration, in countering the threat posed by terrorism.”
Comment and Analysis
Without diving into too many geo-political specifics, it is evident that the F-16 is an untenable acquisition for Pakistan. It was already a troubling thought to part with $270-350 million U.S. for a restricted fighter. The idea of putting aside $700 million U.S. is absolutely unacceptable.
This is not simply an issue of declining goodwill on the part of the U.S., but spending almost a billion U.S. dollars on just eight aircraft when there is an entire mainstay fighter program in need of that funding is simply irrational. With that funding, Pakistan could explore a wide range of options to strengthen the JF-17, especially the forthcoming JF-17 Block-III, which will need considerable funding in order to support the acquisition of active electronically-scanned array radars and other equipment.
That said, the F-16 is still a key U.S. foreign policy instrument within Pakistan. FMF was proposed by the White House, and such policies do not occur for the sake of occurring. Although it does not look good for the deal, the issue may not be over just yet.