This weekend, Pakistan's air force is about to get a lot more fierce. The American Forces Press Service reports, "Three F-16s are scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on June 26, with 15 more to be delivered later this year and next, Air Force Maj. Todd Robbins, the Pakistan country director in the office of the undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs, said in an interview with American Forces Press Service. 'This is the most visible part of a strong and growing relationship between the two air forces that will benefit us both near-term and long-term,' Robbins said." According to the AFPS:
The F-16 is a multirole jet fighter sold to 24 countries around the world, according to its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. The 18 being sold to Pakistan are the Block 52 versions of the aircraft, Robbins said, which will give Pakistan new capabilities, including day-night, all-weather and precision-attack capabilities.
“They’ve not had [these capabilities] before, so this is a major milestone in the U.S. providing this capability, which older models [of F-16s] don’t have,” he said. “This will enable them to strike terrorists within their borders while helping them to avoid collateral damage. It’s an increase in capabilities that are beneficial to us all.”
Pakistan is paying $1.4 billion for the 18 new aircraft, in addition to $1.3 billion in upgrades to its existing F-16 fleet, which are to begin being delivered in 2012, Robbins said.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today he will travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan very soon. For more on the F-16s to Pakistan, check out my story, "Pakistan's Two Air Wars."