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F-16s, Why Not?

28 December, 2005

By Farzana Shah


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Heavy military spending and arms race are discouraged the world over, however one sees that countries, specially those having no need to acquire  more and more sophisticated military armament are still doing so spending millions on the same.

On the other hand Pakistan has been opposed even for trying to fulfill its minimal defence requirements. The massive task of rehabilitation and reconstruction of October 8 quake-victims provided an excuse to certain quarters at the national and at the international level, who have had always scant respect for  the Pakistan security needs, to ask for the cancellation of its deal with the US for the purchase of F-16 aircraft badly needed by the PAF.  The deferment of the deal  by the government  has been though acclaimed  by the interested quarters yet, it is has caused concern for many regarding the security needs of the motherland. For Pakistan it was big question of  do or not to do. And though the decision was taken keeping in view the rehabilitation of the quake-victims, which is certainly the top most priority of the government, yet one cannot totally relegate the defence requirements of the country.

There are many factors to be considered seriously regarding  the acquisition of the military equipment by Pakistan, specially the much needed fighter jets.

It is too well known a fact that Pakistan has never been in confrontation with other countries rather our quest for the military equipment is always aimed at safe guarding the country against any aggression by an adversary and maintaining a semblance of the balance of power in the region, as allowed by its meager means.
 
On the international front we  have had no conflict with any country, which unfortunately can not be said for thesubcontinental arena. Without going into the causes of these skirmishes and confrontations, or who is to be blamed for these, we would like to forget and forgive them as the undesirable events of the past. And we expect the same from India too who has also no conflict with any other country at the international level and is too strong for all the countries in the region put together. It is, therefore, quite perplexing to see the way she is arming her armed forces with the latest and most lethal war equipment.  One can not help ask the question, “against whom is she increasing her military might which is already 5 to 7 times of Pakistan`s military strength – supposedly the next strongest country in the region?”.

It would not be out of place if just to elaborate the point a stock of only one of the Indian armed forces – the Indian Air Force – is taken.

• The Indian Air Force is the world`s fourth largest air force. Has five Operational Commands, over 500 helicopters and more than 1700 aircraft.
•  Just about two months back in October India has been offered Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet. According to reports the EADS (European Aeronautics and Defence Systems) is pitching for its multi-role Eurofighter Typhoon--a truly multi-role, suitable for air defense, bombing and air superiority missions-- sale to India. EADS also participated in the advanced light helicopter project in late-eighties, in October last in briefings to the Indian government, offered to take India on board its fifth generation fighter aircraft project, which is far well advanced than the Russian project, and the first Typhoons could be delivered by 2006. According to the EADS team executives, the aircraft can be entirely produced in India and it would be involved right from R and D stage, if it (India) chooses to deal with EASD.
• During the same month (October 2005) according to reports Indian Air Force planned to increase the number of Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) and plans to buy 200 of them.
• The Indian Cabinet Committee on Security, which clears major defense programs, in October, accepted the Air Force`s proposal to increase the number from the original 126, for which a request for information already has been sent to overseas vendors. The value of the original contract was $5 billion; the revised plan brings the combined value of one or more contracts to $8.5 billion.
• The reports quoting a senior Defence Ministry official said the Air Force plans to phase out 60 of its 140 Jaguar aircraft in the next five years, by which time MMRCAs would start arriving. The additional planes will replace more Jaguars, MiG-23s, and some squadrons of MiG-27s.
• A request for information for the initial 126 planes was sent to Lockheed Martin for its F-16, Saab for the JAS 39 Gripen, Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RAC MiG) for the MiG-29 SMT, and Dassault Aviation for the Mirage 2000-5. Boeing also has offered its F/A-18 aircraft for consideration, as has RAC MiG for the MiG-35, as reported by India defence site.
• Another matter of concern for us is that India and the United States have entered into a new strategic partnership, with Washington agreeing to provide nuclear and space technology for civilian use. The purchase of the F-16 or F/A-18 would signal the beginning of a new defense relationship between India and the United States, said Surya Pal Singh, a retired Indian Air Force air commodore.
• He added that the purchase of two types of MMRCAs not only will help speed up acquisition of the aircraft, it also may help the Air Force acquire American aircraft, which have been offered with the latest radar, Singh said.
• “India wants as part of the MMRCA package the U.S.    Active Electronically Scanned Array radar as well as new-generation missiles”, the Defence Ministry official said.
• Recently IAF has ordered 150 fourth-generations Su-30MK and most will be produced in India under a technology transfer agreement with Russia, besides it will be getting Israeli Phalcon AWACS advanced surveillance.

By looking at the IAF structure we can clearly observe that of its five operational air commands, two are directly of concern to us as its Western Air Command with headquarters in Delhi being the prime one, is responsible for air operations from Kashmir southwards to Rajasthan including the capital and Punjab, with an Operations Group dedicated for Jammu & Kashmir including Ladakh.

The second one is South Western Air Command, at Jodhpur, which is responsible for air operations in most of Rajasthan, southwards through Gujrarat to Saurashtra and the Kutch area.

The IAF five Operational Commands through administrative Wings, control some 45 fixed-wing squadrons, 20 helicopter units and numerous surface -to- air missile squadrons, with unit establishments varying from 12 to 18 aircraft. This represents total aircraft strength of nearly 1,700.

In such a situation we should not appear indifferent to our security needs and press the government for rolling back the purchase F-16 and not to buy the Swedish Erieye aircraft will be highly irresponsible as it will render the nation vulnerable to enemy`s attack.
If we at all are bent upon sparing money for social activities than why those opposing and ignoring the defence needs, are not forcing the government for quashing import of two VVIP business jets including an airbus for Prime Minister`s foreign trips.
According to reports the first of these two, a used 12-seater Gulf Stream business jet costing $28 million is likely to arrive in Pakistan this month. The agreement envisages its buyback by the supplier for $22 million after two years and its replacement with a newer version for $33 million; hence the net additional cost will be $11 million after two years. Now why on earth we are going to spend such a huge amount on one person? Is the Prime Minister above the welfare and the security of the country? Could he not travel in a PIA flight or in case of special circumstances not charter a PIA aircraft for tours abroad.
Earlier we had inflicted losses of millions on national exchequer by importing 40 Mercedes cars for the vulnerable ministers. The so-called ministers can travel without luxury vehicles but the country`s defence can not be put at stake in any case.
 
Similarly millions could be saved by shelving  the construction of the new GHQ complex at Islamabad when a fully operational GHQ is available nearby at Rawalpindi.

 We had been trying for the acquisition of F-16 for nearly 15 years and it was only after 9/11 that the US has had a change of heart about them for Pakistan. Most of the payment for the jet fighters  has already been made to the USA so there is no justification for backing on the deal now. By her unstinted support to US for its war on terror Pakistan has already ensured that there might not be another 9/11, and another most favorable time for Pakistan to take advantage of to fulfill the minimum requirement of its air force.


End.

Reader Comments:

Arm race is very addictive. Its sad to see average developing countries are spending more and more for arms. I feel subcontinent countries are very well used by western ones for arm sales. Developed countries least bother abt peace in the region, they are only concerned for wooing us to buy more from them, hence we get poorer and poorer by going for thier fancy tools (Intel probly learnt from them, reason why we get P4 2.8, 2.9, 3.0, 3.1 etc which dont make sense but just to woo the buyer) and we will never meet the western countries with in-house technical advancements .. By strategic business offers, they are constraining us or imposing sanctions on capable countries from developing superior hardwares in house, they make sure the double-edged sword is indeed getting sharper by the day. They want us to depend them. They want us to fight among us. They want to get profit by that means. And they want us to stay "being developed" for eternity.

Aaron, Hungary - 28 December, 2005

I believe the writer has wrongly dragged India into the whole debate. India has arm to herself and will continue to do so because we have a long history of being occupied by one foreign force or other, the only exception being my home state Kerala.
We can't just let that happen again. We don't want to become another Vietnam. Moreover, the writer seems to be under the impression like most Pakistanis about the arms being Pak-specific. Has she not heard about the ICBM 'Surya' being developed with 8000 km range.
Whether Pakistan has to arm herself or not-is an issue of Pakistanis. But, please dont drag us into the debate, and make it an excuse.

Haroon Rashid, Hungary - 28 December, 2005

Correction

The US give back the money for the F-16. Also the new F-16 will mainly be fund from US hands.

John, United Kingdom - 28 December, 2005

We Are Sleeping With Open Eyes!!

This article only provides the Analysis of IAF only...well i have something more on this ..and it will not be wrong if i say we are sleeping with open eyes....i dont understand de double standards of west in particular and the wolrd in general here are some more facts from Indian bugdet allocation..
>> The Air Force gets Rs 15, 589 crore, an increase of 30 per cent over the revised estimates. The allocation is expected to take care of the upgrading of the fighter aircraft (MiG-21 BiS), licence payment for manufacturing of SU-30 fighter aircraft and purchase of Jaguars from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
(Rs. in crores)
Year Budget Estimates Revised Estimates Actual Expenditure
2002-2003 65,000 56,000 55,661.83
2003-2004 65,300 60,300 60,065.80
2004-2005 77,000 77,000 75,835.14*
*Provisional, accounts not yet closed.
>>The Union Budget for 2005-06 was presented to the parliament by the Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram on the 28th of February, 2005. In this, the allocation for Defence has been increased by about eight per cent over that of the last year from Rs.77,000 crore to Rs. 83,000 crore, or about $18.5 billion at current exchange rates.
>>The Indian air force has agreed to buy 126 Mirage jets from France - worth $30m each - as well as 66 Hawk trainer fighter jets from the UK.
>>Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday unveiled a budget, which, he said, was aimed at poverty alleviation, but allocated Rs830 billion ($19 billion) to defence , marking an increase of 7.8 per cent over his defence budget in July last year.
>> Indians are not talking about matching or coming at par with Pak their concept of military superiority is heading towards providing a firm Base to US against China....Who has given India the right of commenting about Pak defence deals.Indians should not be worried about Pak purchase of F-16s.Pakistan being a soveriegn state has the right to to enhance its Defence to a minimum deterrent level. west should be more concerned to provide the pledges and promises made a world donors conference...every nation gets such kind of aids...its nothing special we are asking them.In lieu they should not demand Pak to stop defence deals for which we have paid 15 years back.
REF:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3876401.stm
Ref2:http://www.indiadaily.com/editorial/07-09a-04.asp
Ref3:http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india/budget.htm
Ref4:http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/01/top11.htm





Fakhar-ud-din, Pakistan - 28 December, 2005

GET REAL

I can bet my life that the author has strong family ties in the armed services of pakistan. Otherwise any God fearing person would not advocate this mindless spending in a country where 43% population doesnt have clean drinking water. The only people who advocate are the ones who benefit financially from these deals. The author needs to step out of her glass house, problem with these high & mighty patriots is that the only pakistan they know and care about is Islamabad. Wake up and smell the coffee Ms., aysa na ho kay dayr hojayeyy or awam ka dhara aapkoo bhii baha karr layjayeyy. There is a hatred brewing in the have-nots of pakistan that if not addressed sooner rather than later will cause a revolution that will sweep the ruling class in oblivion.

ABU_SAFWAAN, Pakistan - 29 December, 2005

O.K. Buy the F-16s, but

The PAF is purely a defencive tool of the military command, though most essential one. However, the economy that supports military expenditure, can be strengthened by the retired personnel of the PAF. The PAF has established a commercial enterprise, Shaheen Foundation that has so far very little to show. It certainly can expand its services in trade and commerce and China can provide the Welfare Trust valuable guidance in this area. The PAF can also emerge into a vital hub for the Muslim world in coordination with Turkey, Iran and Egypt. That move can generate much needed revenues to support the PAF.

Sher Mohammad.
Email: sher_305@hotmail.com

Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 29 December, 2005

Compare the percentage

The author has stated that India has military sterngh 5-7 times more than Pakistan.I would have appreciated if she could have compared the size specially the border length of India and Pakistan along with their military strengh.Also the author should be aware that the total defence expenditure of India is 2.3% of its GDP(average for past 50 yrs)while it has been 5.5% of GDP for pakistan for the same period.

Abhishek, Hungary - 29 December, 2005

lets get real!!!!

well said abhishek, u can hold the same argument for other countries as well like the united states which has amongst the world's largest military itself. that doesnt mean everybody tries to compete with it, the quake showed us where we sand viz a viz others. we have a long way to before we can afford the luxuries of 5-6 % military defence

mohammad, Pakistan - 29 December, 2005

Offensive Punch

Even being a defensive force,PAF much build a small force of Offensive assets to be utilised in case of hostility.Assets like Long Range Bomber(compared to Su-30MKI),Recce a/c(MIG-25),AWACS,satellite intelligence are must haves,for counter strikes against Israel (in case of mischief)& India (keeping in view her new air base in Tajikistan i.e Farkhor military base ).Offensive Punch force is not a luxury,they are must have's.

Sohail Safeer, United Kingdom - 29 December, 2005

Moreover..

India is trying hard to get veto power in UN.. that means she need to strenghten herself considerably and perhaps make few deals to please those who has the right to show veto green flag.

, Pakistan - 29 December, 2005

Discussion

This seems like a very valid discussion from an internal pakistani perspective.
But calling itself a non-aggresor when all 3 + 1 (kargil) wars were a direct result of Islamabad attack could only mislead.
Furthermore I agree with the authors comments on security requirements which could stand true for any nation....


Chandrashekar, United Kingdom - 29 December, 2005

Hi,Farzana
You are eqating india with pakistan.International community knows the truth about india and pakistan.COMMUNIST china and MILITARISED pakistan need not care about their public opinion.These two countries are best friends.There is no free election,no free press,no independent judiciory.Pakistan can spent millions dollers on F16, Sweedish early warning systems and nuclear weapons when their countrymen are begging for food and shelter.Reason you say is pakistan needs protection from india. Farzana do you know how many F16 and nuclear weapons Bangladesh,Srilanka,Nepal and Bhuttan got to protect from india? After 59 years of independence Can you compare the living standad of 160 million muslims of india and 160 million muslims of pakistan.Of course 1%pakistanis done well!!!.It is an open secrect.I think you are born in a good family.God bless you.God bless all the pakistni families.

Babu, United Arab Emirates - 29 December, 2005

Self Reliance

How about relying on our own resources for fulfilling the defence needs. If JF-17 is not good enough then build a plane that will do the job. If that takes too much money and time then learn from Chinese and create alternative mechanisms to build the necessary defenses. Chinese fought the Nationalist forces with bamboos and eating grass that can be seen in the Peoples Liberation Army Museum in Beijing. In the end what matters is the welfare of the people. If people are taken care of they will not allow themselves to be subjucated by anyone. And then there are the nuclear weapons for those who don't get the message...

Imran Khan, Pakistan - 30 December, 2005

f16s why not.

A.A.
RESPECTED MADAM
I WAS DELIGHTED TO SEE YOUR ARTICLES WRITTEN FROM PERSON RESIDING IN PESHAWEAR. THE ARTICLES ARE ECELLENT. I SHALL BE GRATEFUL IF YOU KINDLY CASNDID ARTICLE ON KALABAGH DAM WITH FACTS AND FIQURES.
I PRAY FOR YOU TO WRITE GOOD ARTICLES FOR PUBLIC IN ORDER TO GAIN KNOWLDGE.

I HOPE I WILL RECEIVE YOUR E-MAIL REPLY. THANKS.
KINDEST REGARDS

YOURS TRULY,

NASEER UD DIN PESHAWAR.DATED 30-12-2005

NASSER UD DIN, Pakistan - 30 December, 2005

Hey Farzana.
I think you wonderfully explain the importance of getting the new F16 by pakistan. I totally aggree with you that we should take the advantage of this opportunity of good relations with US and buy all F16 which we need for our PAF. India is very big country and i really dont compare pakistan with india. Pakistan needs these aircraft for the minimum ditterance for the sovereignity of the homeland. I think pakistan has the right to get all these planes and you wrote wonderfully to get the awareness in public views especially for pakistanis.

kashif, United Kingdom - 30 December, 2005

to Abu Safwaan

this is in response to Abu Safwaan. Well buddy you have bet ur life claiming that the author have surely have relatives in the armed forces than well im afraid Mr Safwaan u lost ur life or atleast prestige cuz i know the author very closely she has no one in the army i repeat no one not at lower level so Mr plz stop imagening things on ur own and instead of chalking out things out of bised from the article look at it carefully, i think the artilce is more based on highlighting our defence needs rather than asking for mere purchases for the sake of any army perosn as she has also mentioned to abolish the idea of new GHQ which surely could facilitate some top ranking officials in taking benefits so instead of going into personal attackes why dont u comment constructively.
Ziaul Hassan


Hassan, United Kingdom - 30 December, 2005

Hi,
You said in your article" her(india) military might which is already 5 to 7 times of Pakistan`s military strength", so it should be apparent the new stuff is not for pakistan. India is gearing up to play a bigger role in the region and world...She has finally got rid of the pakistan fixation. So i am sure pakistan need not worry about this new stuff...and anyways a dozen F-16's won't make much of a difference....that money is better spent on the earthquake victims.

Paul, United Kingdom - 31 December, 2005

get the right reason

hello madam. i just wanna say if u want to spend ur money then u wuld also consider about its return. the money which culd go in the pocket of pakistani poors, if it is goin for arm purchage then it would be a result oriented step. not like those old f-16s which pakistan bought and took heavy deapth but couldnt use. what i mean....... if u want to buy arm then attack on india. dont waste ur money for just feel good. becoz india is buying the aircrafts, u mentioned, by spending just 2.4% GDP. they are in no loss by having even $8.5bn deal.

madam u want to compare $342bn pakistani economy with $3316bn indian economy?????? (datas are in PPP which dont change with currency value). what problem nepal or bangladesh have while they dont have f-16s and also both the countries have conflicts with india???????

waste ur money. the time u will buy 60 or even 100 new f-16s, india will have bought 100 new f-16s with 100 new swidish or french aircrafts with full technology transfer while still producing about 16 su-30MKI every year.

even that time when pakistan found free space in kargil, even that time they couldnt maitained their control on it, how can pakistan will attack on india and then capture any part of pashmir?????????

if inda wanted to capture or attack on pakistan, india could have done in 1998. waste ur money. for no use.

s tiwari, Aruba - 31 December, 2005

There's more to india's arming

The author acknowledged in the article that India's armed forces are 5 to 7 times larger than pakistan's, so it is apparent that India is not arming herself to invade or attack pakistan. India is looking to play a larger role in the world for which it needs more military assets. India has actually finally gotten rid of her Pakistan fixation and playing a larger and more significant role in the global arena. I believe pakistan is better off spending thier oney on the earthquake victims.

Rahul Paul, United Kingdom - 31 December, 2005

Buying Weaponry

We are and have been not armed only because of having enmity with India. That is a funny thing that has been discussed. We should be ready to face any enemy any time.
Though we are not fully technically developed but make almost every type of weaponry in our factories. By the grace of Almighty God we have also made now our own fighter planes with the help of China. If we feel any drawback or weakness in any structure of ours we will come up with that and try our best to improve that but we should never ever spend a penny to buy a weapon.
If we are true to defend our land we will do that better with materials of our own.


Mohammad Shamaun Pasha, Pakistan - 01 January, 2006

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