May Issue 2005
The Bottom Line
The cost of the F-16 deal is estimated at one billion dollars, if the report that Pakistan will buy 24 fighter C/D Block 52 jets is correct. American officials say that each piece will cost Pakistan 35 to 40 million dollars, depending on the kind of equipment and avionics involved. This is substantially higher than the price paid by Pakistan for its F-16s in the ’80s. Pakistan signed a contract in 1989, under the Foreign Military Sales programme, for the delivery of 60 F-16s for 1.4 billion dollars — at 2.3 million dollars a piece. However, the US Administration subsequently imposed an arms embargo on Pakistan, and the F-16s were never delivered, despite being paid for. In 1991, Pakistan had already paid 685 million dollars in yearly instalments.
Experts are unable to ascertain the exact purchase price until a formal agreement is signed. In 1998, a similar type of aircraft, the block 52 C/D, was purchased by the US Air Force, at 18.8 million dollars each. Defense ministry officials say that the export version of the same equipment costs substantially more than a similar weapon system produced for US forces.
The cost of the F-16 deal will be covered by the earlier three- billion-dollar assistance package, equally divided into military and economic aid. The deal is expected to cover half of the package, with the rest going to economic assistance.
Pakistan officials estimate the deal will cost around one billion dollars. However, they have not disclosed the number of aircraft Pakistan intends to purchase. Independent sources say that there is a possibility Pakistan will purchase more than 24 fighter jets.
Some of the recent F-16 deals made with the Middle East can shed light on the expense question, confirming estimates that the aircraft will cost Pakistan around 35 to 40 million dollars each. Egypt signed a deal for the purchase of 24 F-16s in 1999, at a reported cost of approximately one billion dollars. The type of aircraft delivered to Egypt was, however, a slightly older model than the Block 52 which has been offered to Pakistan. Similarly, Israel purchased 50 F-16s in 2001, at a reported cost of two billion dollars. However, out of this amount, 1.3 billion went to Lockheed Martin, while the rest to Israel’s local defence industry, which inserted certain indigenously manufactured components into the aircraft. Fifty F-16s of Block 52 configuration cost Greece 2 billion dollars in 1999. The configuration includes the latest avionics and colour displays, conformal fuel tanks for an extended range, and other advanced capabilities.