Delivery of four F-16s this month

WASHINGTON: The US Congress has approved the delivery of ten refurbished F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, diplomatic sources have told Dawn.

Four of these will be delivered to Pakistan on June 28 and four others by July 28. Pakistan has already received two such aircraft.

Two refurbished F-16s are with the manufacturers and will be delivered soon.

Besides the refurbished planes, Pakistan is buying 18 new F-16 fighter jets from the United States.

Initially, Islamabad had agreed to buy 36 of these aircraft at a total cost of $5.1 billion, which included associated weapons, spares and upgrading of an earlier fleet purchased in the 1980s.

But due to financial constraints it later decided to halve the number of aircraft to be bought.

The decision to reduce the order by half would also halve the cost of buying new F-16s and that of the weapons associated with them.

Pakistan, however, will still have to spend $1.3 billion on mid-life update and modification of the F-16A/B aircraft purchased earlier. Engine modifications and purchasing some new equipment for the old fleet will cost Pakistan an additional $151 million.

The sources said the new aircraft would be fully equipped with weapons and facilities that came with an F-16 Block 50/52 aircraft. The planes would be capable of carrying nuclear and non-nuclear weapons.

The United States will, however, have the right to conduct frequent inspections and inventory checking.

Pakistan�s request for new planes and for the modification for its earlier fleet was put on hold after the October 2005 earthquake.

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