Wikileaks: Pakistan has problem paying for U.S. security checks on F-16s

The F-16 deal of Pakistan and U.S. requires a U.S. security personnel at Shahbaz airbase and Islamabad to safe guard the F16 aircraft for five years. However, a WikiLeaks cable suggests Pakistan has problems paying the $150 million needed.

According to one  US embassy cable “The security notes also mandate a five-year, 24/7 US technology security presence for the F-16s. SAF/IA has determined that when fully in place, the US security presence should consist of 45 US personnel – 40 at Shahbaz (five US military and 35 contractors), and five in Islamabad (two US military, one US Government civilian, two contractors). The estimated cost of the US security presence is $30 million per year, or $150 million for the full five-year period.

The F-16 aircraft are subject to security restrictions that the aircraft, armaments, related equipment and technical data need to be housed at a separate air force base which does not have “non-US/non-Pakistani origin personnel and aircraft.”

A January 2009 cable explained this further, stating that “there have been other US government concerns about illegal technology transfer relating to Pakistan’s co-production program with the JF-17 Chinese fighter aircraft.” The cables also note Pakistan’s difficulty in making payments for the security presence.  According to the October cable, Pakistan also had to make upgrades and security enhancements to the airbase, which it estimated would cost $210 million.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said in public statements that the base was under Pakistan’s control and denied that there were American officers stationed there.

Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told the Senate in January 2010 that the base had been used for “covert operations in Afghanistan two years ago” but the Shamsi, Pasni and Shahbaz bases were not being used by the US.

Source: The Express Tribune

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