F-16s can be used against any adversary: PAF chief

An upgraded F-16 fighter plane takes off at Shahbaz Air Base, Jacobabad

SHAHBAZ AIR BASE (Jacobabad): The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, has said there is no restriction on the use of newly-acquired F-16 combat aircraft against any adversary.

“Our mission is to maintain peace in the region with honour, but if the primary effort fails we will use all our assets, including these aircraft, to defend our country against any internal or external threats,” he said.

The air chief was talking to reporters at the newly upgraded Shahbaz Air Base on Sunday after a ceremony held to mark the formal induction of the first three of 18 advanced F-16 fighter jets into the PAF fleet.

The aircraft have been purchased from the United States for $1.4 billion. The ceremony was attended by Chief of Staff of US Air Force Gen Norton A. Schwartz, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson, US Air Forces’ Central Command chief Gen Mike Hostage and US Defence Representative to Pakistan Vice Admiral Michael A. LeFever. Answering a question, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar said the acquisition of the hi-tech falcons would neither spark an arms race nor disturb the balance of power in the region. It would be the other way round, he said, adding that the induction would restore the balance of power as the neighbours already had hi-tech aircraft in their inventory.

Earlier addressing the ceremony, he said the PAF had decided to induct the state-of-the-art aircraft with night precision attack capability in 2006 but the contract became controversial in both the countries from the very beginning, with critics (in the United States) questioning the decision and saying that F-16s would have no role in the fight against terrorism and cynics (at home) also challenged the wisdom of a contract with the US, because of past experience.

He said that Pakistan and the US were allies in the war against terror and trust between the two countries was an essential element required to achieve success in the war. He noted that delivery of the aircraft was the beginning of a process to develop the trust.

“The issue of trust between the two countries would take some time to be established fully, but the ceremony was an important step in that direction,” he said. Read more of this post

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