Washington, Aug 17: India has reportedly raised strong objections to the United States releasing a further 116 million dollars to finance mid-life upgrades for Pakistan's aging fleet of F-16 fighter planes. India and pro-Indian lawmakers in the US Congress say Washington's decision to divert counter-terrorism funds for F-16s, will enhance Pakistan's airborne capabilities and could be used against India.
A Dawn report said that the Bush administration will provide a total of 474 million dollars to Pakistan for this purpose. Pakistan has already received the first tranche of 108 million dollars. Last month, the Bush administration accepted Pakistan's request to shift 230 million dollars from counter-terrorism funds for this purpose. Normally, counter-terrorism funds cannot be used for buying such weapons, but the Bush administration said it accepted Pakistan's request because it wanted to help "a strong ally faced with a difficult financial situation."
The mid-life updates will provide these older aircraft with the same level of technology installed in the current models of F-16s. Pakistan's Air Force will also acquire technological capability to conduct precision close air strikes, non-traditional intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance.
Under this arrangement, Pakistan also receives advanced avionics and radar upgrades and communications and targeting systems that will enable real-time communication with ground forces. The new equipment will also generate ground position data that can be used to direct guided munitions to a target.
The updates will allow Pakistan to employ F-16s for night-time operations as well.