INDONESIA IS negotiating to buy nine of Pakistan's embargoed Lockheed Martin F-16A/B fighters being offered for sale by the US Government.

According to US diplomatic and industrial sources, Indonesia is keen to acquire the aircraft, but has yet to reach an agreement on pricing. The US Government is unable to provide any credit for the sale.

Indonesia is understood instead to be trying to arrange commercial financing to underwrite the fighter deal. The nine Block 15 Operational Capabilities Upgrade (OCU)-standard aircraft are valued at $90-150 million.

The Indonesian air force already operates 11 F-16A/B-15OCU fighters and had been seeking funding in the next five-year defence plan to purchase five new aircraft. The additional F-16s are needed to replace attrition losses and to bring its fleet up to full squadron strength.

The Pakistani aircraft, which have been stored at USAF Davis Monthan AFB since late 1993, would require a series of modifications before entering Indonesian service.

Since delivery in 1989, Indonesia's F-16s have been upgraded with the Litton LN-93 ring-laser inertial navigation system (INS).

The Pakistan aircraft are thought still to retain the original Honeywell H-423 INS. Other required changes would include fitting the Pakistani F-16s with drag parachutes.

The aircraft are among 28 completed for Pakistan, but delivery of which has been barred under the US congressional Pressler Amendment, until Pakistan abandons its nuclear-weapons programme.

The US Government has agreed to try to sell the aircraft, to help Pakistan recoup part of its $658 million investment.

Source: Flight International