Pak to get four F-16s by June end : Officials

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Washington, Mar.30 (ANI): The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) would receive four of the first 18 F-16 fighter jets from the US in June, senior Pakistani and American have officials said.

The fighter jets are part of the 2.9 billion dollars arms package, which includes electronics and weapons upgrades for 34 existing Pakistani F-16s.

Bruce Lemkin, Deputy Under Secretary in the Pentagon for the Air Force, said the Air Force is also reviewing Pakistan's request to loan or lease excess or decommissioned U.S. F-16s for ground operations before newer ones are delivered.

A US military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said 17 of the 18 combat aircrafts would be delivered to Islamabad by December.

Pakistani fighter pilots are already receiving training in the US on the new F-16s, so that they can put the aircraft to optimum use once they are delivered, The Business week reports.

US Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeffry Glenn said 1,000 kits for converting unguided weapons into laser-guided bombs, the first ever sent to Pakistan, have been sent to Pakistan earlier this month, and it could take as many as 30 days to arrive.

The bombs can be dropped from Pakistan's existing older F- 16s, Glenn said in an e-mail.

It may be noted that in 1990, the U.S. halted the production of a third and fourth batch of F-16s ordered by Pakistan, due to its nuclear weapons program. 40 F-16A/B aircraft had been delivered under the Peace Gate I and II programs, however none of the Peace Gate III and IV aircraft were delivered.

However, in 2005 Islamabad finally received the go-ahead to order 24 additional F-16s, which was believed to an explicit reward for General Pervez Musharraf's support in the 'war on terror.' (ANI)

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