US arms Pak with combat aircraft, trainer jets

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Washington, May 5: As the US withdraws its forces from neighbouring Afghanistan, the Obama administration has armed Pakistan with 14 combat aircraft, 59 military trainer jets and 374 armoured personnel carriers, an internal Congressional report has said.

The major defence articles have been transferred to Pakistan under its 'Excessive Defence Article' category, which are mostly from its war combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

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India had in the past have opposed the transfer of such arms to Pakistan as it believes Islamabad would eventually use the fighter jets against it.

According to an internal report prepared by Congressional Research Service (CRS)-– an independent research wing of the Congress-– Pakistan has either made full payment or will make payments from its national funds towards the purchase of 18 new F-16C/D Block 52 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft worth USD1.43 billion.

This include F-16 armaments including 500 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; 1,450 2,000-pound bombs; 500 JDAM Tail Kits for gravity bombs; and 1,600 Enhanced Paveway laser-guided kits.

All this has cost Pakistan USD629 million.

Pakistan has also paid USD298 million for 100 harpoon anti-ship missiles, 500 sidewinder air-to-air missiles (USD95 million); and seven Phalanx Close-In Weapons System naval guns (USD80 million).

Under Coalition Support Funds (in the Pentagon budget), Pakistan received 26 Bell 412EP utility helicopters, along with related parts and maintenance, valued at USD235 million.

Pakistan is also receiving military equipment with a mix of its national funds and America's foreign military funding. These include 60 Mid-Life Update kits for F-16A/B combat aircraft (valued at USD891 million, with USD477 million of this in FMF).

Pakistan has purchased 45 such kits, with all upgrades completed to date. This include 115 M-109 self-propelled howitzers (USD87 million, with USD53 million in FMF).

Under Frontier Corps, and Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund authorities, US has provided four Mi-17 multirole helicopters (another six were provided temporarily at no cost), four King Air 350 surveillance aircraft, and 450 vehicles.

Pakistan has also received 20 Buffalo explosives detection and disposal vehicles, helicopter spare parts, explosives detectors, night vision devices, radios, body armour, helmets, first aid kits, litters, and individual soldier equipment.

Through International Military Education and Training and other programmes, the US has funded and provided training for more than 2,000 Pakistani military officers.

Last month, the State Department approved a possible USD-952 million FMS deal with Pakistan for 15 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and 1,000 Hellfire II missiles.

Congress has appropriated about USD3.6 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Pakistan since 2001, more than two-thirds of which has been disbursed.

President Barack Obama has slowed the drawdown of the roughly 10,000 US troops remaining in Afghanistan until at least the end of the year.

PTI

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