Saturday, April 9, 2016

Does Pakistan Really Need F-16s to Fight Terror?

Pakistan is looking to buy more F-16s from the United States. There's mounting opposition to such sales as witnessed recently when President Barack Obama approved the sale of just 8 F-16s to the country.

India Lobby:

This decision by the Obama administration's decision triggered the Indian spin machine to go into high gear. The campaign orchestrated by the Indian government included placement of favorable news stories, TV analysts' commentaries, newspaper columns and magazine Op-Eds (including one by Husain Haqqani), think tank reports and speeches by the members of the India Caucus in the US Congress.  They all blatantly toed the Indian line that these 8 F-16s would be used against India, not in Pakistan's ongoing counter-insurgency operations. The biased nature of all of these efforts can be gauged by the following facts that were completely ignored by them:

Damocles Multi-Function Targeting Pod Source: Defense News
1. Pakistan, like the United States elsewhere, has been using F-16s in Operation Zarb e Azb against militants hiding out in Pakistan tribal belt along the border with Afghanistan. The key reason for the choice of F-16s is its sophisticated precision targeting pod that is not available on China-Pakistan jointly developed JF-17 fighter aircraft.

2. There is a huge imbalance in the conventional defense capabilities between India and Pakistan as laid out by  It ranks India at number 4 in the world while Pakistan is way down at number 17 in 2016. India's defense spending of $51.1 billion is higher than the defense budgets of much richer nations like France ($50.9 billion), Germany ($47 billion) and Japan ($46 billion), and about 6 times higher than Pakistan's $9 billion, according to SIPRI as reported by the media.

3. India is world's largest importer of sophisticated weapons, including fighter aircraft, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Here's what it says about the import of weapons between 2011 and 2015: India (14 per cent of global arms imports), China (4.7 per cent), Australia (3.6 per cent), Pakistan (3.3 per cent), Viet Nam (2.9 per cent) and South Korea (2.6 per cent).

I did not see a single piece in the US media supporting Pakistani position in this battle.  It was completely one-sided. They succeeded in forcing a US Senate vote to block the sale. Luckily for Pakistan, Obama administration barely succeeded in overcoming this Indian campaign to do something as trivial as selling just a few F-16s to Pakistan this time.

Precision Targeting Pod:

PAF currently relies heavily on a fleet of about 70 US-made Lockheed Martin F-16s with its Sniper Targeting Pods, which are solely capable of carrying out precision targeting to hit militants while minimizing civilian deaths. However, Pakistan's continuous use of F-16s for precision targeting in FATA is reducing their effective lives as air to air combat aircraft.

The latest version of precision targeting pod being used with F-16s is Sniper XR. In addition Northrup Grumman also supplies an Israeli designed LITENING Pod to some of its customers.

While Pakistan is still pursuing purchase of additional F-16s, the nation is also looking to enhance precision targeting capability of JF-17. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is assessing the French Thales-made Damocles targeting pod for mounting on its JF-17 aircraft, according to Defense News.

Thales has a newer Talios targeting. These systems are being continuously improved with day/night targeting with FLIR sensors, CCD cameras, weapon delivery, target updates, target tracking at altitudes, air speeds and slant ranges consistent with tactical weapon delivery maneuvers.

Pakistan Air Force deputy chief Muhammad Ashfaque Arain is currently visiting France to discuss the acquisition of the Damocles pod. He has been quoted by Reuters as saying, “the Damocles is a battle- proven system and the other options are not. If we do not get the Damocles pod for example, then we will need to look for alternate options that may not be proven.”

The addition of a precision targeting pod on JF-17 will improve its mission capabilities as well as reduce the burden on F-16. Another reason why Pakistan is seeking these pods is that they are already being integrated to Russian aircraft(s) and will be produced under license in Russia. So there is a path there for JF-17 aircraft integration.

Pakistan is in the process of retiring hundreds of aging fighter aircraft in its fleet, mainly 40-year-old French-made Mirage jet and 25-year-old Chinese-made F-7s, over the next few years. Islamabad has decided to bet on the JF-17 fighter, jointly developed by China and Pakistan, rather than spending billions on fifth-generation multi-role aircraft like Dassault's Rafale, which rival India is buying, or the Russian Su-35.

India's Opposition:

If Pakistan's efforts to acquire French precision target pods make any headway, I fully expect India to mobilize opposition to any deal. India may use its purchase of additional Rafale jet as a lever to get France to end any further discussion of Damocles sale to Pakistan.


Pakistan is currently engaged in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the world's largest anti-terror military campaign with over 180,000 ground troops and dozens of aircraft involved in it.  Pakistan's need for F-16s to fight terror is genuine, as is its desire to acquire precision targeting enhancement for JF-17s. Failure to meet Pakistan's need for precision targeting and other related equipment would hamper its ability to win the war against terror along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Spin Machine

Has Modi Stepped Up Proxy War in Pakistan?

India's Israel Envy: What if Modi Attacks Pakistan?

Pakistan Army at the Gates of Delhi

India's War Myths

India-Pakistan Military Balance

Pakistan Army Capabilities

Modi's Pakistan Policy

India's Israel Envy

Can India Do a Lebanon in Pakistan?


Anonymous said...

If Pakistan's efforts to acquire French precision target pods make any headway, I fully expect India to mobilize opposition to any deal. India may use its purchase of additional Rafale jet as a lever to get France to end any further discussion of Damocles sale to Pakistan.

Not just Rafale. There is also follow on Scorpene class,Aircraft carrier consultancy(Super carrier INS Vishal),Naval ships,Patrol aircraft(via Airbus) and much more .Many billions of USD in potential contracts in recession hit times.

Damoclese pods cost 2 million a pop so assuming a demand for 100 of these potentially 200 million vs many billions from India.

Good luck!

Ahmet said...

India's redemption lies in Pak's total destruction. India is hell bent to block all the paths for the Paks.

Momin said...

آج کے دن تک ایف سولہ سے بہتر فائٹر جہاز نہیں بن سکا ،اسرائیل نے شام کے ایٹمی پلانٹ کو تباہ کرنا ہو یا ایران کے ایٹمی پلانٹ پر حملے کی پلاننگ ایف سولہ ہی استمعال ہورہا ہے ،عراق و شام اور لیبیا کی جنگ میں بھی یہی جہاز ہے جس نے جنگوں کے پانسے پلٹ دیے

Adam said...

There is a simple answer to your question

PAF has 180-200 F-7 and Mirage 3/5
Which are in need of replacement
They can replace all of them with JF17

But they know its strength and weekness
Hence a much more capable aircraft is required to match an Indian fleet of 270 MKI, 50 Mirage 2000 and 100+ Mig29S/K

I won't be surprised if PAF tries to acquire as much as 80 second hand F16s

Tipu said...

Why Pakistan need More F16s?

1: Block 50-52 is most advance Bird in PAF arsenal. Already operational and its experts are trained and available. Easy to absorb and operate in PAF. PAF can buy 18 of them more to create two top edge Squadrons.

2: Due to advance munition and targeting pods, These F16s are impressive in performance in COIN operations. The targeting pod and Loading weight of Jf17 for Precise ground targeting is still not satisfactory enough. Producing the dire need of upgrading them.

3: Second hand F16 is cheapest and quickest measure to replace older F7 and Mirages. As production of Jf17 is not fast enough, we can easily replace legacy fighter from Surplus F16s from United States and Europe.

4: These F16s can be upgraded with AMLU package (same we did in Turkey) and they will be capable enough to deal with any sort of threat from Eastern as well as Western borders.

5: There is need of Aim9X in PAF arsenal and if possible Aim120D. These two missiles can make our F16s even more deadly. Aim9X is HOBS missile and very deadly in close air combat, and Aim120D is most advance American BVR missile. We should peruse both of them as we already operate older Aim9 series and Aim120C in our Falcon fleet.

6: Only thing in which our F16s lags is absence of Passive tracking as it lack infra red search and track (IRST). Our F16s can carry it on external hard point as pod along with targeting pod on single hard point like that

(An IRST pod with Targeting pod) This combo is called Tiger eye system.

Indian Muslim said...

Failure to meet Pakistan's need for precision targeting and other related equipment would hamper its ability to win the war against terror along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. -@riaz

Interesting how you shifted the burden of terrorism, which Pakistan created over the years from the birth of Taliban to the hiding of Bin Laden to the LeT, Haqqani Network and Jamaat Islami, towards US or France.

Riaz Haq said...

IM: "Interesting how you shifted the burden of terrorism, which Pakistan created over the years from the birth of Taliban to the hiding of Bin Laden to the LeT, Haqqani Network and Jamaat Islami, towards US or France. "

Yeah, Sure. Clearly, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama disagree with your brainwashed response.

Former US Sec of State and current presidential candidate Hilary Clinton has said that the US is now fighting the groups we created and funded during the Cold War.

Similarly, Barack Obama has placed the blame for the swift rise of Isis at George W. Bush's feet by suggesting its growth was an unintended consequence of the US invasion of Iraq.

Mr Obama said: "Two things: one is, Isis is a direct outgrowth of al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion. Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot"

Explaining reasons people in those regions may have for joining militant groups such as ISIS, Mr Obama said: “Where a young man who is growing up has no education and no prospects for the future, is looking around, and the one way that he can get validation, power, respect is if he’s a fighter. And this looks like the toughest gang around, so let me affiliate with them.

“And now you’re giving me a religious rationale for doing this.”

Haseeb R. said...

Now India has two reasons to oppose this deal
1. India does not Pakistan to have advanced technologies
2. Those terrorists are Indian RAW agents.

Amir said...

This is the Falcon STAR (STructural Augmentation Roadmap) program that enables the F-16 to achieve 8000 flying hours and is done on MLU aircraft too..

The entire program involves modifying 13 different structural components, including wing fittings, and reworking skin areas. Falcon STAR modifications are applied to existing aircraft and added to all new F-16's to compensate for aircraft stress increased usage rates and heavier gross weights cause. This program reduces inspection and maint. runs on the aircraft.

19640909rk said...

"Does Pakistan Really Need F-16s to Fight Terror?"

The answer is YES. Pakistan army is "terrified" of India. So they need them to fight their terror. Ask the PAK army of 1971.

Anonymous said...


Regarding 1971, please ignore the fact that Pakistan is 1/8th the size of India. I mean a candy tastes the same weather stolen from a wrestler or from a kindergarten kid. But only a coward would be proud of stealing from a kid and only an idiot would bring it up. On the other hand you are probably a Brahmin, self respect is not really high on your guys's priority list.

G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "But only a coward would be proud of stealing from a kid and only an idiot would bring it up."

The kid now has candy in one hand and an atom bomb in the other hand.

So the coward can no longer dare challenge the kid from the front.

Instead, the coward now has to approach the kid from behind and use proxy way by supporting various militant groups including TTP, BLA and MQM militant wing to stab the kid in the back.

Nigel said...

When it comes to India & Pakistan most economists and pundits agree that have suffered economically due to their rivalry. Pakistan estimated loss is about 2.5% GDP per annum whereas India loses about 0.5%.
I would imagine the damage to the social fabric of Pakistan is also greater

Riaz Haq said...

#US, #India Agree On Small UAVs, High Powered Lasers And Target Detection Technology, Other Joint #Defense Projects …

India and US have finalized four government-to-government projects that include small UAVs, high powered lasers and target detection technology.

“US Secretary for Defense Ashton Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parriakr have welcomed finalization of four government-to-government project agreements in the area of science and technology cooperation. Atmospheric sciences for high energy lasers, cognitive tools for Target Detection, Small intelligent UAVs and blast and blunt traumatic brain injury,” the Indo-US joint statement said Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

So Indian diplomacy has yet again run circles around Pakistan.

What did you expect with nawaz taking personal charge of foreign policy?

Now enjoy the fireworks.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry!

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "So Indian diplomacy has yet again run circles around Pakistan.... I don't know whether to laugh or cry!"

US ex Sec of State Henry Kissinger is reported to have said that there's only one thing more dangerous than being a US adversary; it's being a US ally!

The US is playing the India card against China, not against Pakistan.

In response to a question about India's concerns about the sale of US F-16s to Pakistan, Carter made it clear that the US does not want conflict between India and Pakistan. He further said that "India also has relations with other countries like Russia. We respect that."

As to whether you laugh or cry will soon be evident to you as the bill for being a US ally comes due.

The first most likely US demand to India is already on the table: US "invitation" to India to join US Navy Patrols in the hostile waters of South China Sea where China asserts its sovereignty.

Will India agree to becoming the sacrificial lamb for US ambition to check China's rise? Let's wait and see!!

Riaz Haq said...

#US #F16 jets are to fight #terrorism in #Pakistan: Ashton Carter assures #India via @firstpost

India has expressed concern over the US decision to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan, with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar conveying the government's concerns to Carter, who is presently visiting India.
At a joint press conference with Parrikar, on being asked if the US was trying to be a trusted ally of India while supplying the F-16 fighters to Pakistan, Carter said, "We do try to be trusted partner of India."

He said the US has given some unique technologies to India. "We don't have an agreement like that with other countries."
Asked about the same issue, Parrikar said he did express his concerns to Carter and the US defence secretary assured him the fighter jets would be used to fight terrorism.
Drawing a parallel with India's relations with Russia, Carter said the US values its relations with Pakistan.
"India also has relations with other countries like Russia. We respect that," he said.
"What we do in Pakistan is directed towards counter terrorism. We too have suffered from terrorism emanating from the territory, more specifically Afghanistan," Carter said.
"Pakistan has used F-16 in operations in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). We have approved it. We take terrorism emanating from Pakistan very seriously," Carter added.
He also said the US did not want any conflict between India and Pakistan.
The US confirmed in mid-February the supply to Pakistan of eight F-16 fighter aircraft worth $699.04 million despite protests from India.

Anonymous said...

India has already said NO to any joint patrolling in the south china sea as India has no interest.

Many countries like taiwan, south korea and japan benefited in education, technology from being an US ally. Pak did not from 1947-91 because their priorities were to get arms.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "India has already said NO to any joint patrolling in the south china sea as India has no interest."

Progress on US-India defense collaboration will depend entirely on India agreeing to help US check China's rise. US expects "compliance", not just an alliance with its "allies".

Besides, India needs US more than US needs India. Indian economy would collapse without western money inflows:

Anon: " Many countries like taiwan, south korea and japan benefited in education, technology from being an US ally. Pak did not from 1947-91 because their priorities were to get arms."

South Korea and Japan have security guarantees from the United States. There are still tens of thousands of US troops stationed there to protect them. They don't have to spend much on arms and defense as long as they are under US security umbrella. Pakistan never had such a security guarantee from the US.

Please note that Pakistan's arms purchases pale in comparison to India's as the largest importers of arms in the world and planning to buy even more in spite of being home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterate most of whim still defecate in the open in this day and age.

Riaz Haq said...

From Popular Mechanics

India has agreed to buy a slew of advanced fighter jets from France. The deal, worth $8.8 billion, will provide India with 36 Rafale multi-role fighters for a staggering average cost of $244 million each.

The Dassault Rafale was conceived in the early 1980s to be one multi-role fighter that could replace six different fighter and attack aircraft. The plane is almost completely French, with fuselage, avionics, engines and weapons all made in that country. Rafales have flown in combat in Afghanistan, Libya, Mail and Iraq. France operates 140 Rafales including the Rafale M, a navy version of the fighter featuring strengthened landing gear and a tail hook for use on aircraft carriers.

Although relatively small compared to planes like the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-22 Raptor, Rafale packs a powerful punch. Twelve wing-mounted hard points can carry a combination of air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, sensors, and drop tanks. Despite the fact that the Rafale is now a 30-year-old design, upgrades such as the RBE2 AA active electronic scanning array (AESA) radar, Damocles targeting pod, Meteor air-to-air missiles, and SCALP cruise missiles have kept the design competitive with other so-called "4+ generation" fighters.

Still, $244 million per aircraft is a lot of money. Why does Rafale cost so much? Exchange rates almost certainly play a role. And in addition to the plane itself, there's also a need for support and maintenance equipment and munitions. Part of the problem with Rafale is that aside from Paveway laser-guided bombs, it uses mostly French weapons that are incompatible with the rest of India's stockpile.

India is only the third international customer for Rafale. While the fighter has been on the market for decades, Rafale's first overseas sale happened just recently when Qatar bought 24 planes and Egypt followed shortly thereafter. Rafale will be a strong candidate to replace Canada's aging F/A-18 Hornet fighters when those need to retire.

Riaz Haq said...

#US shoots itself in foot in #Pakistan jet deal. Reignites #Pressler memories of 1990s #F16 #sanctions #Afghanistan

In 1990, the US blocked sales of new F-16 fighter planes on the grounds that Pakistan was making progress towards producing nuclear weapons. In time, the move became controversial as Pakistan simply turned towards its old friend China and ended up producing a home-built fighter plane, the JF-17 Thunder.

More importantly, in strategic terms, Pakistan became a nuclear power just eight years later when it carried out its first nuclear tests in 1998 in response to a series of nuclear tests by India. Even though the US at the time sought to restrain Pakistan from adopting the nuclear route, Washington’s ability was found to be limited. With US sanctions in place, the US was left with few tools to usefully apply on the ruling structure in Islamabad.

Issues such as the case of Dr Afridi clearly fly in the face of reason. The US has itself been faced with situations where individuals caught on its turf spying for foreign governments were promptly prosecuted and sentenced, notably Jonathan Pollard, an American intelligence analyst who was caught spying for Israel.

On other matters too, notably the case of tackling the Haqqani network, Pakistan at best cannot be held entirely responsible for events on foreign soil. But, if indeed, Pakistan has not taken actions that it could have to tackle this issue, US pressure should have best been applied discreetly and in private.

Meanwhile, Washington’s own history in Afghanistan is worth recalling. Tens of thousands of American troops, backed by the most expensive war in history, failed to curb an insurgency that continues to flourish to this day. Holding Pakistan accountable now for a conflict heading southwards flies not only in the face of reason but also fair play.

Ill-advised action

And finally, if indeed the advancement of Pakistan’s nuclear assets partly provoked the US response, Washington’s action is clearly ill-advised. Pakistan lives in a volatile region with a nuclear-armed neighbour — India.


Going forward, Afghanistan will indeed remain a trouble spot not just for itself but the surrounding region too. The thought of a fragmented state, where non-governmental militant groups hold sway on portions of its territory, must be disconcerting for any knowledgeable observer. Afghanistan indeed remains the country from where Osama Bin Laden planned the 9/11 attacks.

Today, the threat of Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) making advances in Afghanistan presents an acute challenge for the country itself and the surrounding region.

Going forward, in spite of the best efforts by the US, Pakistan and other key foreign players, Afghanistan will likely remain a trouble spot for the foreseeable future. A large-scale protest this month — by ethnic Hazara tribesmen over a planned route for an ambitious new electricity project — provided a glimpse of internal divisions fuelling Afghanistan’s discord in years to come, in addition to the militancy-related challenge.

Such trends make it clear that Pakistan will need to remain a part of any regional security arrangement to stabilise Afghanistan. Within itself, Pakistan’s stability remains of global interest, especially given that the country has emerged as the Islamic world’s only state armed with nuclear weapons.

For the US, as before, it appears that spoiling the relationship with Pakistan is easier than rebuilding it. American officials in the past have clearly been baffled by continued anti-US trends on the streets of Pakistan in spite of periods of generous military and economic assistance.

It would be worthwhile for US decision makers to ask themselves if indeed they can realistically expect the popular mood to swing in their favour on the streets of Pakistan, where many are convinced that America remains an unreliable partner.

Riaz Haq said...

Former envoy (Husain Haqqani) lobbying against #Pakistan in #Washington: Aziz

A former Pakistani ambassador in Washington has been lobbying against his own country and creating problems for the government in Islamabad, says foreign policy wizard. Though Sartaj Aziz didn’t name anyone, it was obvious that he was referring to Hussain Haqqani.

“He is trying to circumvent all our diplomatic efforts aimed at boosting bilateral ties between Pakistan and the United States,” Aziz said. “The Foreign Office has serious reservations about his activities in the US.”

Indian PM’s visit to US: International lobby ‘active against Pakistan’

Aziz made the statement in the lower house of parliament after opposition MPs criticized the government over recent foreign policy fiascos. Aziz downplayed the opposition’s criticism, saying Pakistan had the lowest budget for the Foreign Office — Rs15 billion — while Turkey had a Rs82 billion budget and Iran Rs40 billion. “The Foreign Office budget has been increased by 14% over the last three years,” he said.

Foreign policy

According to Aziz, Pakistan was pursuing a ‘balanced policy’ based on non-interference and protection of national interests and nuclear assets and its sovereignty.

“Indian Prime Minister Narandra Modi’s recent trip to Muslim countries should not be construed as a failure of Pakistan’s foreign policy,” he said. Pakistan enjoys historical relations with the Muslim world based on common religion, Aziz said. “Modi’s visit will not affect our ties.”

Aziz also said that Pakistan was ‘making successful efforts’ against India’s attempt to seek a membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. About the new border management plan with Afghanistan, the de facto foreign minister said: “The war against terror cannot be won without effective border management.”

All is not bad

Aziz said criticism for criticism’s sake would not go down well as the CPEC, Central Asia-South Asia-1000 and besides Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline were the projects for regional connectivity. “Pakistan’s political role will enhance after becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.”

About Afghanistan, the foreign policy wizard said Pakistan was pursuing a ‘no-favourite policy’ and making efforts to restore peace in the war-ravaged country through the Quadrilateral Coordination Group.

Meanwhile, NA approved 19 demands for grants of four ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Food Security and Water and Power. The opposition had moved over 700 cut motions but they were rejected in a voice vote.