WASHINGTON: The US State Department has approved the potential sale of F-16 aircraft sustainment and related equipment to Pakistan in a deal valued at up to $450 million, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon said.

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Pakistan of F-16 Case for Sustainment and related equipment for an estimated cost of $450 million,” the Pentagon said in a press release.

The package includes the US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics services to support Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, the release said.

The release further said that this sale does not provide Pakistan with any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions.

The Pentagon underscored, “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by allowing Pakistan to retain interoperability with U.S. and partner forces in ongoing counterterrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations.” 

It further said the proposed sale will continue the sustainment of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, which greatly improves Pakistan’s ability to support counterterrorism operations through its robust air-to-ground capability. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces, it said. 

It said the proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale, it added. 

Thumbnail: U.S. Army soldiers look at an F-16 fighter jet during an official ceremony to receive four such aircraft from the United States, at a military base in Balad, Iraq, July 20, 2015. REUTERS

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