Pakistan Air Force: The Only Air Force That Shot Down Multiple Russian Fighter Pilots in Combat Since WWII
As the United States and other NATO members hesitate in imposing No-Fly zone over Ukraine for fear of direct confrontation with Russia, here's a piece of history from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has the distinction of being the only air force that has engaged and shot down multiple Russian fighter pilots in combat since WWII. The most prominent among those shot down by PAF was Colonel Alexander Rutskoy who ejected over Pakistani soil and was captured by Pakistan. After his release, Rutskoy was decorated as a hero of the Soviet Union and went onto become vice president of Russia under Boris Yeltsin, before leading an attempted coup in 1993, according to The National Interest publication.
|Col Alexander Rutskoy of USSR Air Force Shot Down Over Pakistan|
In 1986, the F-16s of the Pakistan Air Force's No. 9 Griffin and 14 Shaheen squadrons began flying combat air patrols along the Afghan border. That year. The Soviet and Afghan forces began a series of offensives targeting mujahideen bases in the Panjshir valley, supported with intensified bombardments of refugee camps. Here's an excerpt from The National Interest report on the subject:
"By 1987, Soviets records indicate that Pakistani fighters had begun roaming into Afghan airspace—particularly harassing efforts to provide aerial resupply to besieged garrisons like Khost, only ten miles across the border. On March 30, 1987 two F-16s intercepted an An-26 twin-turboprop cargo plane near Khost, each striking it with one Sidewinder from just under a mile away. The ponderous cargo plane crashed into the snowy mountains below, killing all 39 aboard. Over the course of the conflict, Pakistani F-16 pilots also claimed the destruction of several Mi-8 transports helicopter, another An-26 on a reconnaissance mission in 1989, and a maneuver kill versus an An-24 transport which was actually attempting to defect..........On November 3, 1988 the PAF would bag its final jet kill when Lt. Khalid Mahmood shot down a DRAAF Su-2M4K. Pakistan formally credits its F-16 pilots with 10 kills during the conflict, while Soviet records confirm the loss of three Su-22s, an Su-25 and An-26. Some sources claim the PAF shot down at least a dozen more aircraft during the Soviet war in Afghanistan which ostensibly were not formally credited because they involved violations of Afghan airspace".
Pakistan took enormous risks in the 1980s by supporting and providing sanctuaries to the Afghan Mujahideen insurgents who fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Pakistan Air Force took on the Soviet Air Force and shot down several Russian fighter aircraft in dogfights. Pakistanis did this knowing that the US provided no security guarantees to Pakistan. Are Poland and Romania, both NATO members, willing to take such risks? Would the United States allow these NATO members to risk a broader war with Russia? Here's an excerpt from an article by Bruce Riedel, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Intelligence Project. It is titled "Could Ukraine Be Putin's Afghanistan?":
"Being the frontline state behind the mujahideen brought considerable risk and danger for Pakistan. The Russians supported Pakistani dissidents who organized terror attacks inside the country including hijacking Pakistani civilian aircraft and attempts to assassinate Zia (who died in a suspicious plane crash in 1988). Pakistani fighters engaged Soviet aircraft in dogfights. The Pakistani tribal border areas became dangerous and unruly. A Kalashnikov culture emerged that still haunts Pakistan today".
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ALAN J. KUPERMAN
Visiting Scholar, Center for International Studies, University of Southern California
It is unfortunate that Milton Bearden, in an otherwise informative article ("Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires," November/December 2001), repeats the tired myth that the Stinger antiaircraft missile "changed the course of the war" in Afghanistan in the 1980s, forced the Red Army to withdraw, and thereby led to "a cataclysm for the Soviets." This story is incorrect in virtually every respect.
Archival evidence now shows that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev decided to withdraw from Afghanistan a year before the mujahideen fired their first Stinger in September 1986. The Stingers, moreover, had no lasting military impact in Afghanistan and thus could not possibly have chased the Red Army out. The missiles did make an impact in their initial few months -- shooting down dozens of Soviet and Afghan aircraft and compelling others to abandon their missions or to fly so high as to be ineffective. Soon, however, Soviet technical and tactical countermeasures largely nullified the effects. Soviet aircraft were retrofitted with flares, beacons, and exhaust baÛes to disorient the missiles, and Soviet pilots operated at night or employed terrain-hugging tactics to prevent the rebels from getting a clear shot. The best evidence that the Stingers were rendered ineffective is that the mujahideen had all but stopped firing them by 1988, despite continued receipt of hundreds more from the CIA. Instead, the rebels sold the missiles in international arms markets or squirreled them away for future use. (Some have reportedly been fired at U.S. aircraft during the latest hostilities.)
Finally, the Soviets were hardly bled out of Afghanistan. Gorbachev merely used the rhetoric of a bleeding wound to win domestic support for the decision to withdraw. His real motivation for that decision, by all authoritative accounts, was to achieve the lifting of U.S. sanctions, especially on technology transfer, which he viewed as important to his goal of domestic economic restructuring, or perestroika.
Now more than ever, it is essential to put to rest the myth of the Stinger missile, which not only distorts history but offers misleading lessons. The key to victory in our current war is likely to be not some fancy high-tech weapon but rather persistence on the ground in the face of sustained, low-level casualties.
One notable element of the parade including aerial displays, which this year began with an F-16C Block 52 escorted by a pair of newly inducted Chinese J-10C Firebird fighters. Three Firebird fighters from an initial order of 25 are believed to be in Pakistan.
Kaiser Tufail, an analyst who previously flew the F-16 during his military career, thinks the Firebird was a good choice for the Pakistan Air Force.
“The J-10, being in the class of the F-16C Block 52 in terms of range and weapons payload, it was the obvious choice for adding to the numbers of PAF’s [fourth-generation-plus] fighters,” he said.
However, he added, “any acquisition from [the United States] under the current ‘cold’ relationship was neither possible nor feasible.”
He also believes the acquisition was an “appropriate response” to India’s Rafale purchase. Although Pakistan has historically been a committed French customer, the high costs of that country’s hardware encouraged Islamabad to look to Beijing, “an old and trusted friend.”
He also said the J-10C and Rafale are comparable due to the former’s active electronically scanned array radar and PL-15 beyond visual range air-to-air missile.
“While the radar and [beyond visual range] missile capabilities of the Rafale and J-10 are highly classified, it is fair to say that they have broadly similar capabilities,” he noted. “With no possibility of [the Pakistan Air Force] being able to upgrade its [advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles] to the longer-ranged versions, the PL-15 is considered the right antidote to the Rafale’s Meteor.”
The Firebird is also a high-end complement to the more numerous JF-17 jets.
“The J-10 is by no means a substitute to the JF-17, as it is in a different class altogether. With more range and weapons payload, the J-10 forms the ‘high’ end of the high-low mix, with the JF-17 workhorse performing the bulk of ‘routine’ operations. Both types can also be perfectly ‘paired,’ as both share many avionics, data link and [electronic warfare] capabilities,” Tufail explained.
Other new equipment showcased during the parade included the Chinese-supplied SH-15 155mm truck-mounted howitzer and HQ-9P long-range air defense system, as well as the indigenous Shahpar-2 combat drone.
The SH-15 has a maximum reported firing range of about 53 kilometers, making it Pakistan’s longest-range tube artillery system, and helping the country standardize on a single caliber along with its U.S.-supplied M109 and M198 howitzers.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a think tank that tracks arms sales, has not listed the HQ-9P in Pakistan’s inventory, and the Asian nation has not officially confirmed its acceptance into the military. SIPRI does, however, list the CH-3.
Raja Khan, who leads drone-maker Integrated Dynamics, previously told Defense News the Burraq was locally developed based on the configuration of a 1970s kit plane designed by Burt Rutan. China helped rig the finished product with missiles, but then copied and exported it as the CH-3.
The Shahpar-2 is a larger and more heavily armed combat UAV based on the same design lineage.
Despite Pakistan’s ability to domestically develop UAVs, the country still purchases Chinese and Turkish drones. None were on display.
The parade was witnessed by foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, who are attending a conference in Islamabad.
Beijing and Islamabad grow closer with eye on mutual rival
BEIJING/NEW DELHI -- From the sale of stealth fighters to submarines, China is accelerating its defense cooperation with Pakistan in a bid to exert pressure on India, a rival in border disputes with both.
China is believed to want to expand its influence in South Asia while the U.S. and Europe are focused on the war in Ukraine. Beijing "stands ready to provide assistance within its capacity for Pakistan to overcome difficulties and recover its economy," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in a Tuesday meeting, according to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Khan expressed hopes for joint achievements and cooperation "in all fields," the ministry said. Ukraine was among the other topics discussed.
China this month delivered six J-10CE fighter jets to Pakistan, the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times has reported. An update to China's homegrown J-10s, they are a key part of the Chinese air force and often fly into Taiwan's air defense identification zone.
The J-10CE is a so-called 4.5-generation fighter, placing it somewhere between the F-15s used widely by Japan and the U.S. and F-35 stealth fighters in terms of capability. The delivered jets later took part in a military parade in Pakistan.
Pakistan this month is also adding 50 new JF-17 fighters, which were developed jointly with China. They do not match the performance of the J-10CE but do come with near-stealth capability.
India recently deployed the Russian S-400 missile defense system with an eye toward Pakistan. China looks to bolster its response to potential Indian air operations through greater cooperation with Pakistan.
China is actively contributing to improvements in Pakistan's navy as well, concerned that the Indian military could wield greater clout in key Indo-Pacific sea lanes. Pakistan in January inducted a Chinese-built Type 054 frigate, which is designed for anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare.
"Pakistan is reportedly also planning to purchase from China eight submarines, which Pakistan is positioning as the 'backbone of the Navy,'" Japan's Ministry of Defense said in its 2021 white paper. "Four will be built in China, with the remainder to be built in Pakistan."
Sino-Indian relations have deteriorated since the deadly 2020 border clash in the Himalayas. India also announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics at the last minute after a Chinese soldier who had been involved in the fighting was chosen as a torchbearer.
Chinese President Xi Jinping invited Khan to the Olympics' opening ceremony. At a Feb. 6 summit, Xi told Khan that bilateral ties had gained greater strategic significance amid global turbulence and transformation. He expressed firm support for Pakistan's sovereignty -- a likely signal that China stands with Pakistan in the latter's own border dispute with India.
Khan expressed hopes for greater cooperation with China. No force can stop China's advance, he said.
By Vipin Narang
In terms of doctrine and strategy, although it may be difficult to trace direct influence and lineage between Russia and India, there are several pieces in India’s conventional and nuclear strategy that at least mirror Russia’s behavior. On the conventional side, the core formation in the quick-strike concept known as “Cold Start” or “proactive strategy options” was modeled on the Russian formation known as the “operational maneuver group” (OMG). The idea was to have a formation that could be rapidly assembled from tank and armored divisions that could break through reinforced defenses—NATO for Russia, and Pakistan’s I and II Corps in the plains and desert sectors for India.
On the nuclear side, India is currently seized with the same dilemma the Soviet Union was during the Cold War: both NATO and Pakistan threaten battlefield nuclear weapons against conventional thrusts (India, at least, presumably would be retaliating following a Pakistan-backed provocation). While both states refined their conventional concept of operations, there may have also been corresponding adjustments to their nuclear strategies. It was long believed that, in response to NATO threats to use nuclear weapons first on the battlefield, the Soviet Union had strong preemptive counterforce elements in its strategy to try to at least disarm the United States of its strategic nuclear weapons for damage limitation. It is increasingly evident that at least some serious Indian officials are interested in developing the same sort of option: preemptive counterforce against Pakistan’s strategic nuclear forces, both for damage limitation and to reopen India’s conventional superiority. It is no surprise perhaps, then, that India chose to go ahead with acquiring Russia’s S-400 missile and air defense system, despite the threat of Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions from the United States: the S-400 is key to India’s damage limitation strategy, capable of potentially intercepting residual ballistic and cruise missiles that a counterforce strike might miss.
In the early 1960s, Pakistani pilots flew RB-57Fs collecting telemetry on Soviet space and missile activities. An interesting area of cooperation between the US and Pakistan.
Published on Sep 08, 2022 01:43 PM IST
A Congressional notification stated that Pakistan has requested to consolidate prior F-16 sustainment and support cases to support the Pakistan Air Force F-16 fleet by reducing duplicate case activities and adding additional continued support elements.
As a notification to the US Congress, the State Department has made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale of F-16 case for sustainment and related equipment for an estimated cost of USD 450 million, arguing that this will sustain Islamabad's capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on Wednesday.
First major security assistance to Pakistan after Trump ceased it in 2018
This is the first major security assistance to Pakistan after Trump in 2018 had announced to stop all defense and security assistance to Pakistan alleging that Islamabad was not a partner in its fight against terrorism.
“Pakistan is an important counterterrorism partner, and as part of longstanding policy, the United States provides life cycle maintenance and sustainment packages for US-origin platforms,” said a State Department spokesperson.
“This will sustain Islamabad’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet as well as support American foreign policy and national security objectives by allowing interoperability in ongoing counterterrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations,” said the Pentagon’sDefense Security Cooperation Agency in a note.
The Government of Pakistan has requested to consolidate prior F-16 sustainment and support cases to support the Pakistan Air Force F-16 fleet by reducing duplicate case activities and adding additional continued support elements. Included are U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics services for follow-on support of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet to include:
Participation in F-16 Aircraft Structural Integrity Program
Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program
International Engine Management Program
Engine Component Improvement Program, and other technical coordination groups
Aircraft and engine hardware and software modifications and support
Aircraft and engine spare repair/return parts
Accessories and support equipment
Classified and unclassified software and software support
Publications, manuals, and technical documentation
Precision measurement, calibration, lab equipment, and technical support services
Studies and surveys
Other related elements of aircraft maintenance and program support.
The proposed sale does not include any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions.
The estimated total cost is $450 million.
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.
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.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corporation, Fort Worth, TX. There are no known offsets proposed in conjunction with this sale.
Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Pakistan.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
This notice of a potential sale is required by law. The description and dollar value is for the highest estimated quantity and dollar value based on initial requirements. Actual dollar value will be lower depending on final requirements, budget authority, and signed sales agreement(s), if and when concluded.
All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department's Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to IAF Veteran Squadron Leader (retd) Vijainder Thakur, “It is likely that the maintenance support package provided by the US will include upgrades that allow PAF F-16s to carry more advanced weapons and sensors. While I do not believe that the package would significantly alter the balance of power, it will most certainly allow the PAF to maintain its deterrence capability against the IAF.”
There has also been an overarching debate regarding F-16s vs. Rafales in the region. The acquisition of Rafales was seen in Pakistan as an attempt to challenge the F-16’s might and deter the PAF.
General (Air Commodore) Kizer Tufar (Kaiser Tufail), a Pakistani veteran (fighter pilot), had said, “IAF aircraft cannot be compared with the combination used by the Pakistani Air Force: F-16 and AIM-120 missiles. The Indian Air Force is aware of these restrictions, so they decided to place an order to buy the Rafale from France.”
Rafale fighter jet is a twin-engine, 4.5th generation fighter aircraft that can operate from ground bases and aircraft carriers. On the other hand, the US-based Lockheed Martin developed F-16, a fourth-generation, single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft. The two aircraft are almost similar regarding the dimension of length.
Given that they can carry more armaments than the F-16s, the Rafales would have an advantage in an encounter between the two. However, the F-16s have a slight advantage over the Rafales regarding striking power. Rafales only have a range of 3700 kilometers compared to the F-16s’ 4220 kilometers.
“The US has always relied on Pakistan due to its strategic location as it is the gateway to Afghanistan or the Middle East and Central Asian republics. Its importance as a launch pad can’t be reduced – which Pakistan also is equally aware of. And, in the US, a strong pro-Pakistan lobby benefits due to various deals and aid to Pakistan – they get paid – by corrupt Pakistani officials and Generals.
The present F-16 deal is also to be looked at from that angle. Overall it will not have much impact on IAF except for irritant value. Numerically and qualitatively, IAF is much better placed,” Air Vice Marshal Pranay Sinha (retd) told EurAsian Times.
The US decision comes when arms sales worldwide are booming owing to newer threat perceptions. Western officials have debated how to wean India off its dependence on Russian armament. However, India has refused to join the West in isolating Russia.
Some experts contend that the US decision is based on a business requirement. According to Group Captain Johnson Chacko, KC (retd), “Arms transactions worldwide are business oriented. Money matters. The US has supplied F-16s to Pakistan, so it is honor bound to maintain them.
In addition, the arms industry gets money while Pakistan holds the debt. We cannot reduce it to the F16 vs. Rafale debate, as the men behind the machines matter.
We demonstrated that against USAF in the first COPE India exercise held at Gwalior, where USAF F-15s were overwhelmed by what they felt was inferior Russian aircraft flown by IAF.”
It is pertinent to mention that the Indian Air Force has been undertaking a rapid modernization drive. It is dominated by Russian heavy-duty fighters like the Su-30MKI and MiG-29s, combat-hardened Mirage 2000s and Jaguars, and Light Aircraft like the Tejas, besides the cutting-edge Rafale fighters.
A Chinese J-10C. (via Twitter)
The Pakistan Air Force, on the other hand, is dominated by the F-16s, the brand-new J-10Cs, the JF-17, and Mirages, among others.
Before the J-10C fighters were transferred to Pakistan by China earlier this year, military analysts asserted that the purchase underlined the need to counter India’s Rafale aircraft and provide a strong deterrent against the Indian Air Force.
US's F-16 package to Pakistan "predicated on US interest associated with our defence partnership with Pak, wch is focused on counter terror or nuclear security as Sec. Austin made it clear to Min. Singh, it doesnt includes any upgrades", says US Asst Sec of Defense Dr. Ely Ratner
US has limited security partnership with Pakistan, says Pentagon official
Written By: Sidhant Sibal WION
The Pentagon has said that it has a "limited security partnership" with Pakistan, key comments in the backdrop of the recent Washington announcement of a $450 million package for Islamabad to sustain its F16 fleet. The Biden government's decision, which was announced earlier this month reverses the decision of the previous Trump govt and helps Pakistan sustain its F16 programme.
Speaking to a selected group of reporters, US Asst Sec of Defense Dr Ely S Ratner explained that the US has been engaging with its Indian counterparts on the issue "both in advance of the announcement.." and "during the " mini 2+2 that happened earlier this month in Delhi.
Dr Ely Ratner, along with Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State (South and Central Asian Affairs) were in Delhi for the India-U.S.A 2+2 Inter-sessional Dialogue with Indian diplomat Vani Rao. Rao is the Additional Secretary (Americas) in the Ministry of External Affairs.
Ratner said, "It is important to be transparent as we could with Indian counterparts both in advance and during the decision and good opportunity for health exchange on both the US rationale for its limited security partnership with Pakistan and good opportunity to hear India's concern about that".
In the aftermath of the US announcement on F16, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Indian Defence minister Rajnath Singh spoke to each other in which the latter raised New Delhi's concerns. The package doesn't include any upgrades.
In response to the question, the Pentagon official also clarified that the package was not "designed as a message to India, as it relates to its relation to Russia."
He pointed out that the "decision inside US govt around F16 issue was made predicated on US interest associated with our defence partnership with Pakistan which is primarily focused on counter-terrorism and nuclear security". US comments come even as Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif is in New York.
India and US defence ties have increased in the past few years significantly. In 2016, the defence relationship was designated as a Major Defence Partnership (MDP). Several defence agreements have been signed in recent years. These include, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Association (August 2016); Memorandum of Intent between the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Indian Defense Innovation Organization – Innovation for Defense Excellence (2018); Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (September 2018); Industrial Security Agreement (December 2019); Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (October 2020).
by Tom Hussain
A deal struck to maintain and upgrade Pakistan’s warplanes has prompted speculation the US military may have secured airspace access in return
Both sides share a common enemy in Afghanistan-based terror groups. But some analysts see China as part of the reason for the F-16 deal as well
For the first time since the United States cancelled military aid to Pakistan in 2018, Washington this month approved a US$450 million package to maintain and upgrade the South Asian nation’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets, hinting at a thaw in bilateral ties that had turned decidedly frosty of late.
The deal announced on September 9 followed a flurry of diplomatic activity, prompting speculation that in return for agreeing to keep Pakistan’s warplanes airborne for the next five years, the US military covertly secured access to the country’s airspace to carry out counterterrorism operations.
Though Islamabad has repeatedly denied any such conspiracy, the assassination in late July of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul is widely believed to have been carried out by a US drone that traversed Pakistani airspace en route to its target.
Was China a factor in US$450 million US-Pakistan F-16 deal, or is it all about airspace access?
A deal struck to maintain and upgrade Pakistan’s warplanes has prompted speculation the US military may have secured airspace access in return
Both sides share a common enemy in Afghanistan-based terror groups. But some analysts see China as part of the reason for the F-16 deal as well
The U.S. decision to deliver advanced versions of the F-16 as well as targeting and electronic warfare equipment to Pakistan did not come without strings. And this is where the Pakistan model may hold the key to resolving the impasse over Turkey and the F-35. When it approved the sale of advanced F-16s to Pakistan and the upgrade of older models, the United States also insisted on an unprecedented level of oversight of the program. In order to protect the technology it was exporting, Washington required Islamabad to accept and pay for the deployment of a U.S. technical security team at the Shahbaz and Mushaf air force bases — the two locations where the advanced F-16s were to be deployed.
One of the authors of this article served in the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan at the time and was involved in this program, making several visits to Pakistani F-16 bases to ensure the required security upgrades were completed before the aircraft were deployed there. Each technical security team is made up of four to five U.S. Air Force personnel and some 30 contractors who keep a round-the-clock watch on Pakistan’s advanced F-16s. In total, Pakistan has around 85 F-16s, 66 of which are older Block 15 aircraft and 19 of which are the more modern Block 52. Most of the Block 15 aircraft have received the mid-life upgrade, meaning they are also subject to technical security team monitoring. The mission of the teams is to ensure that the Pakistan Air Force uses its F-16s as intended, does not modify them or the weapons they carry, and does not share the technology with unauthorized parties. In Pakistan’s case, the latter issue is especially salient, because the air force also flies the JF-17 fighter, which it jointly manufactures with China. On bases where advanced F-16s are present, the United States requires that Pakistan separate them from other aircraft and strictly limit access to the area where they are located.
Despite its behavior in other areas, Pakistan has been a steady partner in its F-16 program. The Pakistan Air Force uses its F-16s extensively to attack militants in its tribal areas and shares cockpit footage of these operations with the United States (which one of the authors was able to view while stationed in Pakistan). The presence of technical security teams allows the United States to monitor how Pakistan uses these jets, since their weapons load is configured differently for air-to-ground and air-to-air operations. Of course, in a national emergency, even continuous monitoring can’t prevent the Pakistan Air Force from using its F-16s in ways the United States doesn’t like. For example, in February 2019 India claimed a Pakistani F-16 shot down one of its jets in a skirmish over the border between the two. Pakistan denies this, claiming a Pakistan Air Force JF-17 downed the Indian plane. The U.S. State Department has expressed concern about the incident, but did not directly accuse Pakistan of using its F-16s against India. Instead, it admonished Islamabad for moving some of its F-16s to bases not approved by the United States, indicating that both sides would prefer to let the issue rest. This incident highlights a limitation on all U.S. oversight of military equipment it sells to foreign partners, not just Pakistan. When national survival appears to be at stake, U.S. partners will not be deterred by admonitions to use weapons only for certain missions or against certain threats. This needs to be considered early in the process, before an export license is issued.
"It's a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well nor serving the American interests," S Jaishankar said at an event in Washington
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has raised questions over the "merits" of the US-Pakistan relationship and said that Washington's ties with Islamabad have not served the "American interest".
"It's a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well nor serving the American interests," Mr Jaishankar said at an event organised by the Indian American community in Washington on Sunday.
The remarks were made when the Indian minister was questioned by the audience on US action on F-16 fighter jets with Pakistan. Just weeks ago, for the first time since 2018, the US State Department approved a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the Government of Pakistan for the sustainability of the Pakistan Air Force F-16 fleet and equipment at the cost of USD 450 million.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh promptly conveyed to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin India's concerns over Washington's decision to provide a sustenance package for Pakistan's F-16 fleet.
"It's really for the United States today to reflect on the merits of this relationship and what they get by it," Mr Jaishankar asserted.
"For someone to say I am doing this because it is all counter-terrorism content and so when you are talking of an aircraft like a capability of an F-16 where everybody knows, you know where they are deployed and their use. You are not fooling anybody by saying these things," Mr Jaishankar noted.
"If I were to speak to an American policy-maker, I would really make the case (that) look what you are doing," he asserted.
Mr Jaishankar on Saturday concluded the high-level United Nations General Assembly debate in New York and is scheduled to spend the next three days in Washington.
The minister is scheduled to meet with his American counterpart, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and other top officials of the Biden administration.
The US government has approved a $450 million sustainment package for Lockheed Martin F-16s operated by the Pakistan air force.
The proposed package lists several items, including the F-16’s structural integrity programme, the international engine management programme, spare parts, and other services and equipment related to the type, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by allowing Pakistan to retain interoperability with US and partner forces in ongoing counter-terrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations,” says the DSCA.
“The proposed sale will continue the sustainment of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, which greatly improves Pakistan’s ability to support counter-terrorism operations through its robust air-to-ground capability. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.”
The package does not, however, include new capabilities, weapons, or munitions.
The lack of capability improvements could reflect Washington DC’s increasingly warm ties with Pakistan’s archrival India.
Moreover, Pakistan has become closer to Beijing in recent decades, including the joint development of the Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17. Pakistan is also the first international operator of the Chengdu J-10C, which in Chinese service performs similar missions to the F-16.
Cirium fleets data indicates that Pakistan operates 57 F-16A/Bs and 18 F-16C/Ds, with an average age of 30.8 years.
By M.K. Bhadrakumar
Yet, some national dailies have rushed to eagerly attribute it to the US displeasure over India’s stance on the conflict in Ukraine. One daily rather churlishly advised the government, “As Delhi demonstrates “strategic autonomy” to engage with every side — Quad one week, and Russia and China the next at the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) in Samarkand — and work around Western sanctions to buy oil from Russia, and keep friends in all camps, it may have to come to terms that others in world play the same game.”
In this unseemly hurry to link Ned’s remarks with India’s strategic autonomy, what these commentators overlook is that the US spokesman was speaking on a special day when the Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto was visiting the state department at the invitation of the Secretary of State Antony Blinken — and on top of it, the two countries were commemorating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Indeed, it is another matter that Jaishankar’s remarks were not only unwarranted — casting aspersions on the US-Pakistan relationship — but untimely, and perhaps, even provocative. The only charitable explanation could be that Jaishankar was grandstanding as a consummate politician before an audience of Indian-Americans, with an eye on his “core constituency” in India. The mitigating factor, of course, is that he has only given back to the Americans in their own coin, who consider it their prerogative to butt into other countries’ external relations with gratuitous comments — India’s with Russia, for instance.
Ned Price’s remarks have all the elements of a policy statement. He said: “We don’t view our relationship with Pakistan, and … our relationship with India as in relation to one another. These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each. We look at both as partners, because we do have in many cases shared values. We do have in many cases shared interests. And the relationship we have with India stands on its own. The relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own. We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbours have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible. And so that’s another point of emphasis.”
What stands out at the most obvious level is that Price reiterated the US policy in the recent decades since the Cold War ended to “de-hyphenate” Washington’s relationships with India and Pakistan while also promoting a normal relationship between the two South Asian rivals who are not on talking terms. Price pointed out that the two relationships have “different points of emphasis in each.”
Interestingly, Price equated India with Pakistan as partner countries with which the US has “in many cases shared values” and “in many cases shared interests.” This needs to be understood properly. Washington has taken note of Pakistan’s objection over the prioritisation of India in the US’ regional policies in South Asia in the past.
This shift removes a major hurdle in the trajectory of US-Pakistan relationship and is necessitated by a variety of factors following the humiliating defeat that the US suffered in Afghanistan. Here, security considerations certainly constitute one key factor.
The killing of the al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri was only possible due to the help from Pakistan. Equally, Afghan situation remains dangerous and the US cannot turn its back on what’s happening out there. The US’ dependence on Pakistani intelligence has only increased.
“As a practical matter, countries that have had to rely on Russian equipment are going to find it very difficult to get even basic supplies from Russia’s defense industrial base,” said the NSC's Cara Abercrombie.
The remarks come weeks after the Biden administration notified Congress it would make $2.2 billion in new Foreign Military Financing grants available for Ukraine and former Warsaw Pact countries whose Soviet-made gear has been part of international aid to Ukraine.
“In NATO, that could be to transition our eastern flank partners to NATO-standard, western equipment. But certainly as we look to other countries in the Pacific, this is an opportunity as well, not just for the United States, but for western industry as well,” Abercrombie said.
The Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Bill LaPlante, said more “interchangeability by interoperability” among allies presents an opportunity, not just economically, but geostrategically. Linking industrial bases, or “friendshoring,” would mitigate supply chain shocks and be essential to the common defense of the U.S. and its allies, he said.
“As we have seen in Ukraine, the weapons and equipment provided by the U.S. and its allies are the best in the world,” LaPlante said in pre-recorded remarks at the ComDef conference. “Continuing to more closely integrate these capabilities with increasingly common standards for munitions, software and other components will provide even greater advantages moving forward.”
Though western sanctions have targeted Russia’s defense industry, Russia was in 2021 the second-largest arms exporter after the United States, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Its chief clients are India, China and Egypt.
The head of Russia’s weapons export branch said earlier this year that Moscow’s arms export revenue in 2022 is likely to total about $10.8 billion, roughly 26% lower than reported for 2021.
This week, LaPlante is in Brussels convening a meeting of weapons buyers from more than 50 countries to better coordinate defense industrial efforts as they replenish weapons sent to Ukraine from their own stockpiles. The meeting is taking place under the auspices of the 50-nation Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Dovetailing with Pentagon-led efforts to boost western and allied defense capabilities, the White House will continue the work of a Department of Defense “tiger team” seeking to streamline the U.S. process of selling arms around the globe, Abercrombie said.
“Within the National Security Council, I am looking at basically a baton pass,” Abercrombie said. “As DoD wraps up its initial analysis, we’ll be doing an interagency process to look at the collective [effort and] how can we make U.S. foreign military sales work better for our partners, or at least be a little faster.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August established the task force to address the U.S. foreign military sales process, which spans the Pentagon and State Department. Abercrombie said the streamlining is meant to make the process more nimble without cutting corners.
Asked about trade restrictions by the European Union that could hinder U.S. defense exports, Abercrombie said the administration is seeking to reduce those barriers. Supply chain challenges make clear it’s “time to be looking for opportunities to work together to reduce the barriers,” she said.
The U.S.-led meeting of armaments directors in Brussels also highlights some of the headwinds for allied efforts to arm up. The gathering is aimed at addressing supply chain chokepoints for gun barrels, ball bearings and steel casings ― as well as how to sustain equipment for Ukraine on a long-term basis.
“Ultimately, more closely integrating with our allies and friends around the world will make us all more secure and resilient,” LaPlante said.
Replying to @DevanaUkrainemeaning no disrespect, but … the f-16 has zero air-to-air kills when piloted by the US, unless you count no-fly-zone enforcements (7 kills). UA might want some Israeli pilots (over 50), or Pakistan, the only air force that’s shot down multiple Russian fighters since ww2 (10!).
We’ve lately been talking about aircraft which have gone for combat several times. Now we’ve been thinking of some statistics of various fighter aircraft in use. Below you can find the details – but first of all we would like to show you an overview, created by Wojtek Korsak, based on this article. Thanks for that Wojtek. Click enlarge. If it is still to small: Press and hold Ctrl and scroll up with your mouse.
The Format is:
[Name of aircraft] Air-to-air kills – Air-to-air losses – Losses to ground fire
[Name of conflict aircraft was used in]
[Nation that used aircraft in said conflict]
Air-to-air kills – Air-to-air losses – Losses to ground fire
Aircraft which were destroyed on the ground are not included in this analysis, because any plane can get destroyed on the ground no matter how good it or its pilot is.
F-16 Falcon 76-1-5
Gulf War (USA) 0-0-3
No-Fly Zones (USA) 2-0-0
Bosnia (USA) 4-0-1
Kosovo (USA) 1-0-1
Kosovo (Netherlands) 1-0-0
Kosovo (Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Turkey) 0-0-0
Afghanistan (USA, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway) 0-0-0
Iraq (USA) 0-0-0
Syrian border clashes 1979-1986 (Israel) 6-0-0
Operation Opera (Israel) 0-0-0
Lebanon War (1982) (Israel) 44-0-0
Lebanon War (2006) (Israel) 3-0-0
Intifada (2000-present) (Israel) 0-0-0
Soviet-Afghan War (Pakistan) 10-0-0
Border clashes (Pakistan) 1-0-0
Kargil War (Pakistan) 0-0-0
Northwest border wars (Pakistan) 0-0-0
Aegean Sea clashes (Turkey) 1-1-0
Venezuelan Coup 1992 (Venezuela) 3-0-0
A top Russian official warned Western countries of “enormous risks” if they supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter aircrafts.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the state-run Russian news agency TASS that Ukraine’s Western allies are continuing to escalate the conflict, and the Kremlin will take their plan to send the F-16s into account.
“We can see that Western countries continue to stick to an escalation scenario, which carries enormous risks for them. In any case, we will take it into account when making plans. We have all the necessary means to achieve our goals,” Grushko said.
A senior administration official told The Hill that President Biden informed other world leaders at the Group of Seven (G7) summit on Friday that the United States will support a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots to use F-16s.
The official said the U.S. hopes the training can start in the coming week and it will take months to complete. They said the countries involved will decide when to provide Ukraine with the jets, how many to provide and who will provide them.
They added that the training will take place outside Ukraine at sites in Europe.
F-16s are fourth-generation aircraft that are significant upgrades to the Soviet Union-era jets that Ukraine has been flying.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has made an in-person appearance at the G7 summit, has been pushing for Ukraine’s Western allies to provide the jets for months. Biden had previously said in February that he was ruling out sending the jets at least “for now.”
Zelensky said last month that he “raised the issue” of providing F-16s to Ukraine during a call with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).