F 16 Aircraft
02, Mar 2019
Prelims level : Defence Mains level : GS paper 3: India and its neighborhood- relations.
- A day after India raked up contract details between the United States and Pakistan on the AMRAAM missile fired from an F-16 aircraft and shared the information with American interlocutors to bolster its case about the misuse of the fighter aircraft against India, the US sought more information on the matter.
- US State Department was seeking more information on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jets by Pakistan against India in violation of the end-user agreement.
- Due to non-disclosure agreements in Foreign Military Sales contracts, it cannot discuss the specifics of end user-agreements contained within.
- There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission and Pakistan is trying to hide this fact.
- Also, parts of AMRAAM air-to-air missile, which is carried only on the F-16s in PAF, were recovered east of Rajouri within Indian territory.
- Tthe contract details and the part of the missile show the use of F-16s in the air strike since the US, which sold the fighter jets to Pakistan, does not allow these platforms to be used in an offensive role.
- Previously Pakistan said that no F-16 fighter jets were used and denied that one of its planes had been downed by the Indian Air Force. It claimed that no F-16 was part of the operation any such admission would violate US sale conditions of not letting Pakistan use F-16s in an offensive role.
- The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF).
- Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather aircraft.
- The F-16 is a single-engine, highly manoeuvrable, supersonic, multi-role tactical fighter aircraft with a maximum speed of over Mach 2.
- In 2016, India had strongly opposed the US decision to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan, which also could not pass the muster in US Congress for Foreign Military Funding. This meant that the order was never placed.
- The United States, which is the largest seller of high-tech defence equipment globally, and has a strong end-user monitoring agreement, as a matter of practice takes all allegations of misuse of defence articles very seriously.
- But before making any judgement or arriving at any conclusion, it needs to establish some facts on the ground, if there has been any violation by Pakistan to the F-16 end-user agreement it signed by the United States.
- F-16 jets were meant to be used to “enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations. Publicly available documents reveal that the US has imposed nearly a dozen restriction on Pakistan related to its use of F-16.
- AMRAAM missiles allow a fighter pilot to target an enemy aircraft that is beyond visual range, in day or night, and in all-weather conditions. The AMRAAM has an autonomous guidance capability, which allows the pilot to manoeuvre immediately after the missile’s launch.