India to summon US ambassador on plan to sell jets to Pakistan

A Turkish Air Force F-16 jet preparing to take off from an air base in Konya in 2010.
A Turkish Air Force F-16 jet preparing to take off from an air base in Konya in 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) - India will summon the United States ambassador to convey its "displeasure" at the planned sale of F-16 fighter jets to neighbour Pakistan.

The US State Department notified Congress on Friday (Feb 12) that it had approved the sale of eight Block 52 Lockheed Martin fighters valued at US$699 million (S$977 million), government aides said. The jets will be used to support Pakistan counterterrorism operations against militants, they said.

"We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Twitter. "The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself."

US Congress has 30 days to approve the sale, which will be announced publicly on Saturday (Feb 13)). The planes are powered by Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines and pilots will use the Boeing Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System.

India and Pakistan have fought four wars and are home to the world's fastest-growing nuclear arsenals and the most militarised border.

India was the second-largest buyer of US arms in 2014 and is vying to become one of the first countries to import armed Predator Avenger drones from the US, a move that would allow it to remotely drop a bomb on any square inch of Pakistan.

Pakistan previously bought 18 Block 52 F-16s as part of a US$5.1 billion arms package that included electronics and weapons upgrades for 46 existing Pakistan F-16s.