Pakistan is now considering buying used F-16 fighter jets from Jordan after it saw the previous US deal, valued at $699 million, come unstuck after the US Congress refused to authorise the use of government funds to pay for the aircraft under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme .
Pakistan’s current fleet of F-16 jets are due to be decommissioned in the next few years. The military sees the aircraft as vital in case of war against India, as India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence in 1947.
An air force spokesperson declined to say how many F-16s Pakistan has, but the number of the aircraft in service is believed to be about 70.
Jordan had offered to sell Pakistan 16 used F-16s of the Block-30 variant, an older version than the Block-52s that Pakistan would have obtained from the United States, Dawn reported.
Pakistan has bought Jordanian F-16s before, procuring 13 of them in 2014, said the report, with the current batch on offer having been manufactured between 1988 and 1990, and upgraded in 2001/02.
The US deal fell through after members of the US Congress, led by Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, demanded that Pakistan stop harbouring militant groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
Also read: US Asks Pak to Pay for F-16 Jets After Congress Raises Objections
Pakistan, though, has claimed that it is acting against the militants, citing military operations in lawless ethnic Pashtun lands that border Afghanistan.
Pakistan says the F-16s, with their precision strike ability and night-flying capability, are essential for its fight against Islamist militants in remote mountains near Afghanistan.
The difficulty over the F-16 deal was the latest sign of increasing frayed ties between Pakistan and the United States.
Last month, a US drone killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour, then-chief of the Afghan Taliban, on Pakistani soil. Pakistan condemned the strike as a violation of its sovereignty, and as not being conducive towards encouraging the Taliban to enter talks with the Afghan government.