Pakistan – Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman,the Chief of the Air Staff, has said there is no limit on the use of newly-acquired F-16 combat aircraft against any enemy.
Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman
“Our mission is to maintain peace in the region with honor, but if the primary effort fails we will use all our assets, including these aircraft, to defend our country against any internal or external threats,” he said.
The air chief was talking to reporters at the newly upgraded Shahbaz Air Base on Sunday after a ceremony held to mark the formal induction of the first three of 18 advanced F-16 fighter jets into the PAF fleet.
The ceremony was attended by Chief of Staff of US Air Force Gen Norton A. Schwartz, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson, US Air Forces’ Central Command chief Gen Mike Hostage and US Defence Representative to Pakistan Vice Admiral Michael A. LeFever.
Answering a question, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar said the acquisition of the hi-tech falcons would neither spark an arms race nor disturb the balance of power in the region. It would be the other way round, he said, adding that the induction would restore the balance of power as the neighbors already had hi-tech aircraft in their inventory.
He said the new F-16s would provide the PAF all-weather day and night precision attack capability, adding a new dimension to the PAF potential. He said that the capabilities of the new aircraft and mastering their technology was a challenge for the PAF, but expressed the confidence that it would be done in weeks and months.
US Air Chief General Norton Schawrtz said the event was symbolic and a tangible demonstration of the US commitment to stand by Pakistan in the long run as an important ally.
“Pakistan’s new F-16s will give PAF pilots and Pakistan’s military an unprecedented advantage against extremist groups who threaten Pakistan and the region by enabling precision targeting in all-weather conditions, during both day and night, while reducing potential for collateral damage,” Gen Schawrtz said.
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