US agreed to provide a life-cycle upgrade to Pakistan’s F-16 Falcons
There was good news for Islamabad from Washington. The US has decided not to interrupt the technical and technological support of Pakistan’s F-16 Fighting Falcons. A decision that overturns that of the previous host of the White House – Donald Trump. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that in 2018, Donald Trump decided to end the technological and technical support program for the Pakistani F-16s.
The administration of current US President Joe Biden has decided to continue the program. Currently, this program is valued at approximately half a billion USD. In this way, Pakistan will be able to pay for the planned optimizations, redesigns, and technological upgrades of the F-16. Experts expect that in 2023, Islamabad will include some of the upgrades in its defense budget.
Although Donald Trump stopped the program to upgrade Pakistan’s fighter jets, Barack Obama was the first to freeze two packages worth a total of billions of dollars. Islamabad was forced to seek help from Beijing and thus the joint Pakistan-China CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder fighter jet was born.
Pakistan and China went further by deciding to develop at least four versions of the JF-17 Thunder. Thus, currently in operational service are the JF-17A Block 1 and JF-17A Block 2, which are single-seat fighters. JF-17B Block 1 is a fighter with two seats, and the latest modification – JF-17A Block 3 – is already undergoing tests.
Pakistan has about 140 JF-17 Thunder fighter jets in operational service. Another 50 are currently in production. However, the US has done itself a serious disservice as Pakistan and China not only co-produce the JF-17 Thunder but are arguably successfully exporting it to countries with limited budgets. In addition to Pakistan, Nigeria, Myanmar, and Iraq already have the JF-17 Thunder.
That is why political analysts and military experts from the US believe that Joe Biden’s decision is aimed at reducing Chinese influence on Pakistan. Opening up the option to upgrade Pakistan’s F-16s could improve relations between Washington and Islamabad. This may lead to new contracts. It is quite possible that the lifting of Donald Trump’s ban on the modernization of Pakistani aircraft will become the reason for new US sales to the Pakistani government.