US approves technical, logistics support for Pakistan’s F-16 jets: The US government on Friday approved technical and logistics support worth 125 million dollars to Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jets under Peace Drive program despite the freeze in security assistance to the country since January 2018. A day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Donald Trump held talks in Washington, the Pentagon notified the US Congress of its decision to approve military sales that would result in 24×7 end-use monitoring of the F-16 fighter jets of Pakistan. Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 60 contractor representatives to Pakistan to assist in the oversight of operations, a statement said.
The move came after Pakistan requested a continuation of technical support services and other related elements of logistics support to assist in the oversight of operations in support of the Pakistan Peace Drive advanced F-16 programme. Sources said the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) will get as many as 54 F-16s under the programme after a gap of 37 years.
Accusing Islamabad of harbouring terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network within its border and showing an unwillingness to take decisive actions against them, US President Donald Trump had suspended more than USD 1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan in January 2018. Trump, in a new year tweet, had accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but lies and deceit and providing safe haven to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over a period of 15 years.
The US approval has raised eyebrows in India as Pakistan has used the F-16 fighter jets against India post-Balakot airstrike. However, the Pentagon has asserted that the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets will not alter the military balance in the South Asia region.
Peace Gate/ Peace Drive program
On 15 January 1983, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) took delivery of the first six of 40 F-16A/B Block-15 ordered under the Peace Gate I program. In 1988, the PAF decided to order 11 new F-16A/Bs (Peace Gate III). This order was followed by a much larger purchase of 60 F-16A/Bs (Peace Gate IV) in September 1989. On October 13, 2009, Lockheed Martin had unveiled the first of 18 new F-16s produced for Pakistan in ceremonies today at its Fort Worth, Texas, facility. The then Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), had accepted the first F-16 block 52 aircraft on behalf of his nation.
What is End-Use Monitoring Agreement?
-The End-Use Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) agreement was designed by the US Congress for ensuring American oversight, right-of-access and on-site inspection in client states. Here ‘client states’ means states that purchased American military equipment or under the US security and nuclear umbrella. Reports say the US has signed the EUMA agreements with 32 countries.
America has succeeded in imposing the EUMA on both Pakistan (officially classified by Washington as Major Non-NATO Ally) and India (a strategic non-NATO partner). EUMA will allow the US officials to periodically carry out physical inspection and inventory of all American military equipment transferred or sold to any country to check if the countries are using any purchased weapon for the purpose for which it was intended. EUMA also restricts what the purchasing country’s right to modify the US-manufactured defence equipment (even within its own borders) and get the articles serviced by any another country without prior American permission.
Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jets and the recently acquired C-130 Super Hercules military transport aircraft, Apache attack helicopters, Chinooks heavy-lift helicopters, and the P-8A Poseidon aircraft by the Indian Air Force come under the purview of the EUMA.