An important American defence official has stated that the Biden administration’s approval of crucial spare parts for Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jets “is not aimed as a message to India.” The $450 million contract for F-16 upkeep, which Pakistan purchased decades ago, was rejected by the previous Trump administration.
In response to a query from reporters about whether the F-16 upgrade and discussions about US-Pakistan defence cooperation were a signal to India regarding its neutral stance toward Russia, “Okay, so, yeah, definitely not,” responded Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs. The action against the F-16s is not intended to send a message to India on its relations with Russia.
Due to US interests related to our defence collaboration with Pakistan, which is largely focused on counterterrorism and nuclear security, a decision was taken inside the US government about the F-16 issue.
India and Russia have long-standing defence relationships. While recent years have seen India purchase US-made weapons and aircraft, the majority of its military hardware has historically been of Russian origin.
Rajnath Singh, the Indian defence minister, spoke by phone with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin last week and expressed India’s worries on Washington’s choice to support Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.
Ely Ratner responded when asked about the issues posed by Mr. Singh, “And as the secretary made clear to minister Singh during their call last week, this matter did not entail any improvements or weapons. Regarding the first portion of your query, we have been discussing it with our Indian counterparts both before the announcement to preview it and also during my visit with Assistant Secretary Lu to Delhi.
“As a result, we believed it was crucial to communicate openly with our Indian counterparts both before and after making that choice.
It also gave us an excellent opportunity to have a constructive discussion about the US’s limited security alliance with Pakistan and to hear India’s worries about it,” Ely Ratner said.
The F-16’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, claims on its website that 4,500 F-16s have been produced for 25 countries during the course of the program’s four decades and ongoing upgrades. According to Lockheed Martin, the cumulative sorties of these jets have exceeded 13 million.