Pakistan says Turkey to help modernise its F-16 fleet

  • Imtiaz Ahmed, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
  • Updated: May 15, 2016 19:32 IST
A Pakistani airforce F-16 plane flies over a Pakistani national flag. (Reuters File)

Pakistan said that Turkey has agreed to help modernise its F-16 fleet at a cost of 75 million dollars, in the wake of US refusal of Islamabad’s request to help fund the purchase of eight fighter jets.

Earlier this month, the State Department had expressed inability to fund the $700 million deal with American tax payers’ money and the US asked Pakistan to use its “national funds” to buy the jets after some top Senators put a hold on the deal.

Through the official news agency, APP, the Pakistan government said this week that Pakistan and Turkey had struck a deal in an aviation project under which Istanbul will modernize Pakistan’s fighter planes and that some of them have already been flown to Turkey.

APP quoted Volkan Yuzer, the regional coordinator of the Turkey-Asia Pacific Council of Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), as saying that Turkey was manufacturing engines of the F-16 jets, besides making some spare parts.

Pakistan and Turkey enjoy excellent relations. Over this weekend, prime minister Nawaz Sharif visited Turkey to participate in the marraige ceremony of the daughter of Turkish president Recep Erdogan.

In contrast, relations with the US seem to be under a cloud. Earlier this month, Pakistan’s advisor to the PM on Foreign Affairs, Sartaz Aziz has said that his country would acquire jets from elsewhere if the US does not arrange funding for a previously agreed upon F-16 fighter jet sale.

“If funding is arranged, Pakistan will get the F-16s, otherwise we will opt for jets from some other place,” Aziz had said.

The US gives Pakistan $265 million as part of foreign military assistance, Aziz said, adding in previous years it was $300 million. The amount received is split between the three branches of the armed forces. Pakistan Air Force’s share is $80 million, which they had allocated for the last three years to buy the jets, he said.

“The funding we received was part of normal military funding received from US, and not specifically meant for the purchase of F-16s. The US has informed us that we can use the funds for purchase of other military equipment and items, but not F-16s,” he added.

Pakistan had earlier reached an understanding with the US for buying eight F-16 planes. Under the deal, Pakistan was required to pay about $270 million from its national funds. The US was supposed to provide the rest from its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund. But at a Congressional hearing, US lawmakers made it clear that they would not allow the Obama administration to use US funds for the deal.


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