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Washington greenlights military sales to Pakistan & India, months after air skirmish

Washington greenlights military sales to Pakistan & India, months after air skirmish
The US has approved $125 million worth of support for Pakistan’s F-16 warplanes as well as $670 million of support for India’s C-17 transport planes. The two regional rivals had their first direct air combat in decades this year.

The sale to Pakistan will require the deployment of some 60 contractor representatives, who will “provide 24/7 end-use monitoring” for the country’s US-made fleet of fighter jets, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement on Friday. The package will service the Lockheed Martin F-16s delivered to Pakistan as part of the “Peace Drive” program, which includes 12 F-16C jets and 6 F-16D jets.

Pakistan’s fleet of F-16s came into the spotlight in February during a security crisis, in which Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in direct combat for the first time in decades. New Delhi alleged that Pakistan had used the US-made jets during its retaliatory attack inside an Indian-controlled part of the disputed Kashmir region, losing one of them in an interception by the Indian Air Force. If true, it may have violated US arms export terms. Pakistan denied deploying F-16s for the mission and said it didn’t lose any aircraft.

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Also on Friday, Washington announced its plans to sell spare parts and equipment for the Indian fleet of Boeing C-17 military transport planes. The contract would require 23 contractor representatives, the agency said.

The DSCA explained that the sales “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” The approvals come days after a visit to the US by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and a month after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a high-level visit to India.

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