Pakistan F-16 deliveries under threat again

Washington DC
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Deliveries of Lockheed Martin F-16s to Pakistan are under threat again, just two years after the USA lifted an arms embargo in recognition of the Islamic nation's support in its fight against terrorism.

The US government is reviewing all support for Pakistan after president Gen Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency. In addition to more than $300 million a year in foreign military financing, the review also covers sales of Lockheed F-16s and P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft.

US Congress last year approved the sale of 18 new F-16C/D Block 52 fighters to Islamabad, plus the refurbishment and transfer of 18 ex-US Air Force F-16A/Bs and upgrade of Pakistan's existing F-16A/Bs, which were delivered between 1983 and 1987.

Lockheed received an initial contract for the 18 new aircraft last December, with deliveries to be completed in 2010. The order also included an option for 18 more aircraft. Lockheed also has a contract to refurbish eight ex-US Navy P-3Cs for Pakistan.

Pakistan also ordered 71 new F-16A/Bs in 1988-9, but in 1990, before deliveries could begin, the US Congress imposed an arms embargo because of its undeclared nuclear weapons programme. The 28 F-16s completed by Lockheed were delivered into storage and eventually entered US service as aggressor and test aircraft.