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Pak puts off F-16 deal with US

The move follows complaints from Pak air force that the planes are "bereft" of vital electronic warfare systems.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2006 18:20 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Pakistan has put off signing the letter of acceptance (LOA) for purchase of 36 F-16 fighters from the US after complaints from its air force that the planes were "bereft" of vital electronic warfare systems.

After the complaints, Pakistan's Ministry of Defence asked the US Secretary of Air Force International Affairs, (SAIFA), which is the coordinator and supervisor for the project, to extend the signing of LOA until December 31, Pakistani weekly Friday Times reported.

The last extension was sought on July 31 this year.

The deal was apparently deferred partly due to conditions imposed by the US on the operations of F-16s and the "absence" of vital electronic capabilities from these platforms.

Musharraf was expected to take up these issues when he meets President George W Bush in Washington on Friday.

"So the signing deal is off. Perhaps President Musharraf will try to extract some concessions during his meeting with Bush.

But the entire deal is likely to spark much more debate and change before finalisation," the weekly quoted a Pakistani official as saying.

According to the report, the F-16s were being offered without EW programme capabilities for their Radar Warning Receiver (RWR).

"This means that they will have pre-installed threat library and its RWR will only be able to identify Non-NATO aircraft," it quoted an expert as saying.

"Any NATO aircraft attacking these F-16s using Beyond Visual Range (BVR) capability could take them out easily simply because these F-16s would not know when they would be locked in sight of the attacking adversary and hence would be unable to take evasive measure," he said.

First Published: Sep 22, 2006 17:45 IST