Context: Recently, India’s Defence Minister “conveyed concerns” to his American counterpart on the US decision to provide Pakistan with a $450 million package for what the Pentagon has called the “F-16 Case for sustainment and related equipment.”
About the package to Pakistan:
- US released it Defense Security Co-operation Agency press release which announced $450 million package, the proposed contractor for technical and logistics services for follow-on support of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.
- Under this, there is participation in several technical coordination groups, aircraft and engine hardware and software modifications and support, equipment support, manuals, precision measurement, and a range of related elements of aircraft maintenance.
However, USA clarified that “The proposed sale does not include any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions,”
- It will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by allowing Pakistan to retain interoperability with US and partner forces in ongoing counter-terrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations” .
Why this deal now?
- one revolves around the killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Questions have swirled, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as to who provided the intelligence for the drone strike that killed the al-Qaeda chief in a posh house that belonged to Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani. So, it is considered as reward for providing the information.
- Earlier, Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI head Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum have been in active touch with their US interlocutors. Anjum visited the US in May, and Bajwa reportedly asked for help secure an IMF package for Pakistan, which has been granted.
- Another reason could be the geopolitical churn arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, the US is trying to break China’s hold on Pakistan with sweeteners of its own.
- The Pakistan Air Force now has more Chinese JF-17 Thunder fighter jets than F-16s — but it continues to rely on the ageing American aircraft, as the India-Pakistan 2019 skirmish demonstrated.
India, Pak, the aircraft
- According to Brig. Rahul Bhonsle (retd), the sustainment programme for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet would enhance conventional deterrence versus India.
- He says that the last aerial skirmish between Pakistan and India in February 2019 — during which the PAF brought down a MiG-21 flown by IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman — showed that the F-16 is the aircraft that Pakistan will use in any future encounter with India.
- India-U.S. bilateral relations holds “global strategic partnership“, which is based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional, and global issues.
- Both are member of Global platform which has strategical importance such as Quad and I2U2 Grouping (India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States) And, such incident is not going to strain relation between two nations, even it is expected to strengthen technological and industrial collaboration and also explore co-operation in emerging and critical technologies between two nations in upcoming time.
- However, India needs to effectively enhance conventional combat capability of the IAF to continue to meet the challenge of a resurgent PAF.
About F-16 Fighting Falcon:
- The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, single engine, 4th generation, multi-role fighter aircraft developed by General Dynamics Corporation, USA.
- It is highly manoeuvrable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Question
Q.1) What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news ? (2018)
- An Israeli radar system
- India’s indigenous anti-missile programme
- An American anti-missile system
- A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea