F-16 Assistance To Pakistan Not Designed To A Message To India: U.S. official
- The Defense Security Cooperation Agency told Pakistan about a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) worth $450 million for engine, electronic warfare, and other hardware and software upgrades and spares for the F-16 fighter jet programme with Pakistan.
- India's Defense Minister Rajnath Singh talked on the phone with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about India's worries about the U.S. giving Pakistan F-16s.
Ely Ratner, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said that the action on F-16 was not meant to send a message to India because of its relationship with Russia. He also said that they talked to India about it both before and during the decision.
Mr. Ratner and Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu went to India two weeks ago to meet with the Ministries of Defense and External Affairs.
“The decision was made inside the U.S. government based on U.S. interests about our defence partnership with Pakistan, which is mostly focused on counter-terrorism and nuclear security,” Mr. Ratner said in a virtual meeting with a few media outlets and think tanks late Thursday night. “It’s something we’ve talked about with our Indian counterparts both before the announcement to get a feel for it and during my trip to Delhi.”
He went on to say that they thought it was important to be “as open as possible” with their Indian counterparts “before and during” the decision. His visit, which happened at the same time as the announcement in Washington DC, was a good chance to have a “healthy exchange” about the U.S.’s reasons for its “limited security partnership” with Pakistan and to hear Indian concerns about it.
On September 7, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency told Pakistan about a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) worth $450 million for engine, electronic warfare, and other hardware and software upgrades and spares for the F-16 fighter jet programme with Pakistan. It also said that the proposed sale did not include any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions.
In response to a question about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments last week that the “era of war” was over during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO meeting, Mr. Ratner said, “We were heartened by PM Modi’s comments last week…”
Last week, India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh talked on the phone with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about India’s worries about the U.S. giving Pakistan F-16s.
During the conversation, Mr. Austin made it clear to Mr. Singh that the support package “does not include upgrades or weapons,” Mr. Ratner said.