India concerned about US package for Pakistan F-16 jets

Indian defence minister says conveyed New Delhi’s concern to the US in a 'warm and productive' telephone conversation


Reuters September 15, 2022
Rajnath Singh. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI, INDIA:

India is concerned about a US decision to provide a sustenance package for Pakistan's fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft, the Indian defence minister told his US counterpart on Wednesday.

The US-built aircraft are a critical part of the military arsenal of Pakistan, whose arch-rival India worries that the fleet could be used against it by its neighbour.

Last week, the US State Department approved the potential sale of sustainment and related equipment to Pakistan in a deal valued at up to $450 million, with the principal contractor being Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).

"I conveyed India’s concern at the recent US decision to provide a sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet," Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter following what he called a "warm and productive" telephone conversation with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.

Read F-16 programme will help Pakistan meet counter-terrorism threats, says US

Singh's ministry said the two also reviewed US-Indian defence cooperation and reiterated their commitment to further strengthen military-to-military ties.

Pakistan, which like India is nuclear-armed, has relied heavily on Chinese-made jets, but the F-16s remain the most effective and advanced in its fleet.

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