Washington: Pakistan, which recently
received 14 F-16s from the US and another 14 is on its way, is negotiating for more such fighter jets and simultaneously developing its manufacturing capabilities to reduce its
reliance on the Americans, a media report said Wednesday.
Such a disclosure was made by Pakistani Air Chief
Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman in an interview to Aviation Week,
but he gave no indication of how many more F-16s Pakistan is
seeking from Lockheed Martin.
Qamar spoke to Aviation Week in Melbourne where he was
attending an air chiefs` conference.
The US Congress in 2006 had agreed to give Pakistan 28
F-16C/Ds under an excess defence articles initiative. The first 14 aircraft were recently delivered.
"Qamar says negotiations are ongoing for the remaining
14," the Aviation Week said.
Pakistan has a total of 63 F-16s?45 A/Bs and 18 C/Ds.
"Qamar says all the A/Bs are to undergo a mid-life
upgrade and become C/D aircraft `close to Block 50` standard
by 2013-14. The first three A/ Bs are being upgraded at
Turkish Aerospace Industries," the report said.
According to Aviation Week, Pakistan is also jointly
developing the JF-17 fighter, which is being produced at the
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra.
Qamar said the second squadron of JF-17s will go into
operation in late March, and at that time the Chinese Nanchang
A-5, a ground attack aircraft, will begin to be phased out,
the report said.