The US’ decision to cut subsidy price on the sale of up to eight F-16 fighters may force Pakistan to turn to Chinese fighter jets.
The US on Tuesday told Pakistan to fund itself for the purchase of Lockheed Martin F-16s after US Congressional members objected to using Foreign Military Financing allocation to pay for the fighters.
According to the earlier $699 million deal, Pakistan would have to pay about one third of the actual price with a funding about $270m from its national funds. The US was supposed to provide the rest from its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund.
Pakistan will have to part with national funds for the purchase of eight F-16s which would cost more than twice the amount it had agreed on earlier. In such a case, each F-16 fighter will cost an approximate $87 million.
The US gives Pakistan $265 million as part of foreign military assistance, in previous years it was $300 million. The amount received is split between the three branches of the armed forces. Pakistan Air Force's (PAF) share is $80 million, which they had allocated for the last three years to buy the jets, Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's foreign policy chief was quoted as saying by Reuters Tuesday.
“While the US had barred use of the funds for F-16s, the allocation of roughly $240 million could be used "for other purchases,” Aziz said.
"We will examine this with the suppliers to see if there is an alternative source of financing," he said.
"So if any arrangements can be made, we will buy them, otherwise obviously we will have to look for planes from somewhere else," Aziz added.
Pakistan may eye buying more Chinese FC-1 Xiaolong or JF-17 thunder (under the joint production by the two countries) fighter jets which is a cheaper alternative for F-16. The fighter would cost about $25 to $32 million a unit.