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Pak negotiating with US for more F-16 jets: PAF chief

Pakistan is negotiating with the US to get fourteen F-16 combat jets in addition to the 18 fighters whose delivery will begin later this year, air force chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman said on Saturday.

world Updated: Mar 27, 2010 21:50 IST

Pakistan is negotiating with the US to get fourteen F-16 combat jets in addition to the 18 fighters whose delivery will begin later this year, air force chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman said on Saturday.

The Pakistan Air Force will start receiving a batch of 18 of the latest version of F-16 jets fitted with beyond visual range (BVR) missile systems by June.

Pakistan has been negotiating with the US to get another lot of 14 F-16s of the same version and other modern gadgets and weapons, Suleman said.

"Our wish list is unending but we are heading with a realistic approach," he told a news briefing at the Air Headquarters in Islamabad.

He was responding to a question about the PAF's wish list for the US.

Suleman did not disclose the number of BVR systems being acquired from the US.

Pakistan had signed a contract with the US government for 18 F-16 C/D aircraft in September 2006.

The first batch of these jets was rolled out in the US in October last year. The delivery of all 18 jets is planned to be completed by December this year.

Over the past three years, the US has also provided 14 F-16 fighter jets as part of its security assistance to Pakistan.

In response to another question, Suleman said the PAF’s existing fleet of F-16s will be upgraded to the level of Block 52 series with US aid in Turkey.

The project will begin in September and will be completed by 2014.

Suleman also briefed the media on the ongoing High Mark 2010 exercise, saying the army and navy were participating in a wargame with the PAF for the first time to develop integration and joint preparedness.

The JF-17 Thunder jet, which is also part of the exercise, had been performing better than expected, he said.

Pakistan and China jointly developed the JF-17.

The significance of the High Mark exercise can be gauged from the fact that the PAF had engaged all its assets, especially aircraft that were recently inducted in its inventory, including the Saab-2000 early warning and control system and Il-78 air-to-air refuellers.

The exercise is being conducted in a "near to real situation" to train fighter pilots to avoid collateral damage during the anti-terrorist operations, Suleman said.

The exercise focuses on dealing with threats from traditional rivals and a "potential unconventional enemy", he added.