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Jan-03-2008 02:21printcomments

Biden Takes Bush to Task Over Sale of F-16 Jet Fighters to Pakistan

This is not the first time the United States has sold or attempted to sell F-16 jet fighters to Pakistan.

An Pakistan Air Force F-16 and their country's flag
An Pakistan Air Force F-16 and their country's flag

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Bush Administration has awarded a $500 million contract to supply Pakistan with 18 F-16 military fighter jets. The Pentagon made the announcement late in the day on December 31st, stating that it had approved the sale of the planes to Pakistan, with the deal awarded to Lockheed Martin.

President Bush's decision to sell the planes comes at a time when this politically strained country is reeling from the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It is also occupied by countless numbers of jihadists, many of whom use Pakistan as an entry point to Afghanistan.

The reports do not make clear whether the planes will be paid for by Pakistan, or by U.S. aid, or a combination of both. Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. said that if any U.S. aid is involved, the sale is illegal.

"The recently passed Defense Appropriations bill bars any assistance to Pakistan for weapons sales that are not for counter-terrorism purposes. The primary purpose of F-16s is to balance India, not to combat the Taliban or Al Qaeda. If the sale involves no U.S. assistance, it is technically legal but fundamentally misguided."

In Biden's words, the decision to go ahead with a half-billion dollar sale of advanced fighter aircraft to Pakistan shows how dangerously misguided President Bush's policy is.

"How can the White House even think of green-lighting such a sale at such an incredibly sensitive time? It sends exactly the wrong message to the Pakistani generals, and to the Pakistani people. This is the time we should be putting the pressure on the government and military to fully investigate the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and to hold free and fair elections – not let them off the hook."

Biden called for a possible suspension of big-ticket military sales like F-16s to Pakistan the day after President Musharraf announced his State of Emergency. Biden says he did it to warn Musharraf that his acts would have consequences.

"Just before Christmas, Congress enacted legislation to prevent the Administration from taking exactly this sort of reckless action. The Administration's decision is just plain wrong and should be reversed, immediately, until Pakistan returns clearly to the democratic path."

This is not the first time the United States has sold or attempted to sell F-16 jet fighters to Pakistan. The Pakistan Air Force currently has the F-16A/B model in operation.

Their pilots have used the plane for what it is meant to be used for, in fact Pakistan was the second nation, after Israel, to use the F-16 in combat. That was during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 where they reportedly brought down three enemy aircraft.

Between May 1986 and November of 1988, Pakistan's Air Force F-16s shot down at least eight intruders from Afghanistan. At least one F-16 was lost in these battles, this one in an encounter between two F-16s and six Afghan Air Force aircraft on April 29th, 1987. However, the lost F-16 appears to have been an 'own goal', having been hit by a Sidewinder fired by the other F-16. The unfortunate F-16 pilot, Flight Lieutenant Shahid Sikandar Khan, ejected safely.

Pakistan has ordered a total of 111 F-16A/B aircraft from the United States. Of these, 71 were embargoed by the US due to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. 28 of those 71 were actually built but were flown directly to a U.S. Air Force storage site.

Over the years, F-16.net reports, various plans were conceived for these 28 aircraft: Pakistan wanted to get the aircraft or their money back, and they were offered to various nations, none of which were interested. Ultimately, the US Navy and USAF entered them into service as aggressor aircraft. It is unknown if these particular 18 aircraft have anything to do with any from the original lot of aircraft designated for Pakistan.

Another historical note from the Afghan War period is that the United States offered the sell Pakistan the first F-16's, but refused to include an aspect of the weapons system that greatly reduced the effectiveness of the aircraft's capabilities.


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with almost twenty years experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist and reporter. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated only with Google News. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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Godsofchaos January 6, 2008 12:03 pm (Pacific time)

"Henry/TFI, no doubt a frustrated non-combatant, and Audie Murphy wannabe."Jefferson Now theirs a thought. Ruark's Laws of combat.

Jefferson January 6, 2008 10:46 am (Pacific time)

Update for you people who may not be familiar with LTC. North's past legal situation: He, like most people who have been improperly prosecuted, appealed his case and the convictions were "VACATED!" The appeals court noted that his 5th Amendment rights were violated, among other legal miscues. Note: Even the far left ACLU assisted this Patriot's improper prosecution. LTC. North is a patriot and a war hero; he received the Silver Star, two Purple Hearts and other combat decorations for his "combat" service in Vietnam. Henry/TFI, no doubt a frustrated non-combatant, and Audie Murphy wannabe.

Henry Ruark January 6, 2008 5:24 am (Pacific time)

To all: Why send North my opinion, clearly stated, unless you wished him to refute it ? Best possible refutation comes via public confrontation sometimes conducted as professional interview. Your statement constituted boast by action itself, since North now "celebrity", after brief acquaintance you mentioned before --with surely demeaning statement he "might have made it" to post under your command. SO interview-offer was both natural and entirely sincere, since have 'em ever since h.s. days. Several in work now via Internet for use later on state issues. Still open and now seems can count on three key Oregon tv-news stations if you can somehow pry out response from North, and he unafraid of the basic questions I already laid on you."No fee" may kill his interest, of course... Easy to see your failure to appreciate basic journalism since it immediately promises not only to unveil YOU but to again compromise North, as well-paid shill for current employers known for political distortion/perversion of news and issues every day, noted and reported in depth nationally by established critics far beyond your small domain...they are published. Where's your stuff ? And, basically, your few remnants of credibility are rather now well "obfuscated" as stance of pathetic old man still driven by militaristic lifestyle with such principles as waterboard torture for captives. That, in and of itself,tells all the "character" we ever need here.

Jefferson January 5, 2008 5:57 pm (Pacific time)

Henry/SFI regarding what boast? Show me what I wrote that told you I was going to see if I could get LTC. North(Ret) to speak to you? Note: People I commented that I would email to Col. North the inaccurate and insulting comments made by the non-combatant SFI. As usual, just like the other member of your stooge tag team, you simply create and/or make up misleading statements. It's so unfortunate that a significant percentage of people out there do not understand what a "real" professional journalist is...though that's to your advanage SFI. Then feldman is simply an uneducated wannabe who probably spends more time eating than he does in rational thought. I noticed earlier he wrote that he never dwelled on his negative past, but would still write about it...this is a classic device that little children use to garner attention/sympathy. Bitter littlepeople also engage in that type of behavior...

Godsofchaos January 5, 2008 2:47 pm (Pacific time)

"Have you been taking your meds?"Jefferson Not enough Lithium in the world for that.

Henry Ruark January 5, 2008 1:47 pm (Pacific time)

Per Carter/Clinton comments, so happens they are on record, albeit not here since S-N not in existence then. Also happens they were published in standard print channels, too --over by-line, per always for HCR. What's word from your friend North, whom you hero-ize. Is sensitivity of Iran situation now preventing any possibility of response ? Can now assure you of three-station/shot for tv-news, if you can get it up after big-talk referring to him. All three station news directors delighted, will even publicize in advance if you can make good on boast.jzx

Jefferson January 5, 2008 12:24 pm (Pacific time)

Henry/SFI I imagine you evaluated both the Carter and Clinton Administrations when they were involved in the sales of U.S. military equipment? Yeah that's what I thought...as usual all your comments are generally of political bent, and that "bent" slips comfortably into the favorite ideology of your breezy ilk, and that is {fill in the blank, hint: it is not democracy people]. SFI I have noticed that your comments to me are getting more and more juvenile in nature. Have you been taking your meds?

Jefferson January 5, 2008 8:47 am (Pacific time)

2turk the F-16, like all military equipment becomes obsolete. Pakistan has the bomb, so bows and arrows (something I would prefer actually) would not be fitting, though that is what the war criminals in Isreal should have...

Henry Ruark January 5, 2008 5:33 am (Pacific time)

Takes concentrated, continuing stupidity to make statement like this, in face of Iran-Contra initiation of what we now know to be same effort, by same people, to dominate world oil: "People the sale of military equipment is always going on, I will not discuss the after-market commerce, but these sales simply are not a bad thing in terms of national security." What with water-board background, command/control fullbore attitude, itching trigger-finger revealed, revelling in hatred for such as FDR and Wayne Morse, you reveal yourself for what you have become, as many in the military find themselves so converted. Christian ethos is far gone from you, if you ever had any. "Pathetic, abject old man" seems comfortble fit, the more you manage to flourish further signs, symbols, and fully significant other components for our continued-proof judgment. SO I say to you now, with obvious meaning for all" "Flush and fly away !"

2turk January 4, 2008 9:32 pm (Pacific time)

Obsolete weaponry ? Why don't we sell them our slingshots and bow and arrows. Advanced F-16 fighter jets can cause a lot of mass destruction while in the hands of a wobbly/failed(?) military junta like Musharraf's.

Henry Ruark January 4, 2008 10:42 am (Pacific time)

To all: Further

Jefferson January 4, 2008 8:45 am (Pacific time)

People the sale of military equipment is always going on, I will not discuss the after-market commerce, but these sales simply are not a bad thing in terms of national security. What has hurt us very badly, and we do not know how badly yet, is what info and military technology the Clinton Administration provided to China (who by the way is the puppet-master of North Korea; also recall all those Chinese campaign donaters who left the country during the congressional investigations dealing with that matter. Plus 105 Clinton personnel took the 5th!? when asked to testify in front of congress...yeah, great administration!) Please note before convicted criminal Sandy Berger (former Clinton NSA director and Hillary advisor) put our nation in trouble, he was a lobbyist for China! As far as the 911 attack, it was formulated during the Clinton Administration. When Henry/TFI mentions the Founder's, please be aware that they wanted, even demanded a limited-sized government, whereas TFI calls for more government programs, ergo a continually bigger government which just by it's nature of enlarging strips away more and more individual freedoms. 911 was a horrible event, but when you look at the attack and the planning involved, plus the way an intelligence sharing wall was put up during the Clintoon Administration between the FBI and other intelligence organizations (done by a member on the 911 commission people!), we simply did not know what was being misdirected from intelligence analysts...this has improved greatly, and I assure you the 911 Commission did not promulgate this, it was a normal adaption process that continually happens...intelligence gathering is a dynamic and fluid process. Remember, we have not been attacked since 911, and you must realize that the government will not be sharing many events that have been stopped so as not to compromise ongoing intelligence gathering. The far left knows this, but their agenda does not care about this as they strive to gain power to then take your freedoms from you.

Henry Ruark January 3, 2008 2:09 pm (Pacific time)

To all: By now you recognize woefully weak diversionary attempt, whenever ANY point is made by N-N and cohorts. IF criminality is sought, check out what's happening NOW in D.C. for overwhelming new record about to draw down the remedial process the Founders gave us. "You're another !" never wins any credibilities, and solid fact easily "seen with own eyes" beats that out, anytime, anywheres. Glad he mentioned 9/11, now clearly seen as brought on by criminal neglect prior to and afterwards, as Commission will eventually declare --when they are allowed to complet what should have been solidly on the record by now, anyhow. Do NOT forget, either, that is basis of ongoing "war on terrorism" - title cannily chosen to "obfuscate" true purposes for which we were committed to overwhelming expenditures in dollars and blood, never yet even partially justified. As wit, wisdom and will of the American public is in process of making entirely clear, again, to all neocons, at whatever cost in closer attention to where we are "led" --read manipulated, massaged, and malignly driven for neocon purposes aimed at fascistic and feudal final destination.

Jefferson January 3, 2008 12:31 pm (Pacific time)

Henry/TFI: So if you want to purse a crisis, what was a bigger one, the 911 attack and the [incomplete] ivestigation that took place afterwards, or the current one in Pakistan? When Henry/TFI uses words like "obfuscates" and "conceal" in conjunction with a "diversionary" method. Well folks let's just look at convicted criminal Sandy Berger (former Clintoon NSA director and Hillary advisor) who stole top secret documents and admitted destroying them (talk about deep pockets!) so the 911 investigative body could never find out what they needed to fully know! Now that is what is meant by words such as "conceal" and "obfuscates", then diversion is what TFI does, obviously. Regarding the sale of these jets, so what! I would say that the deal the Clinton/Carter team brokered with North Korea is what far outshines some contracted commerce in true importance to our national security...

Sue January 3, 2008 12:11 pm (Pacific time)

Like father, like son.

Henry Ruark January 3, 2008 11:16 am (Pacific time)

To all: Please note neither GofC nor N-N offer any additional information, nor even rational disagreement. G0fC's statement, even if accurate reflecting past policy, avoids the essential point in Tim's story which is the consequence of supplying such arms, even if currently obsolete, to Pakistan at this particular time of crisis. N-N, of course, seeks only to smear and cut down by irrelevant attack designed to move attention from main point, purposely. Diversion of attention is old technique heavily used by neocon since it obfuscates at the same time it conceals, and is thus both confusing and simple to do. I might, for example, inject right here this question: Are those granddaughters still okay ? But I will refrain from thus abusing "a pathetic old man" drive by the "command and full control" embedded in his only natural reactions after long career in the military --a mode antithetical in any democracy, as Eisenhower, himself surely in position to know, so clearly warned us.

Jefferson January 3, 2008 10:10 am (Pacific time)

Sen. Biden sure would be my go to guy if I need information on plagerism, but not anything else... As a presidential candidate, like Gore, will he also lose his home state?

Henry Ruark January 3, 2008 8:39 am (Pacific time)

To all: Tim's specialized experience and long record for informed, responsible and accountable journalistic work makes this solid piece a gem of essential coverage for our readership here. One can expect inevitable neocon propagandized attack, directed at the messenger since the realities are invulnerable to factual response. The action-taken, along with others now irreversibly on the public record (and reported here, too) is still further indication of the desperate and depreciating status of the neocon cult/cabal, as the wit, wisdom and will of millions of true Americans again begins to emerge and clear both the air and the way for future progress in our once-democratic republic. For still further proof of what's actually happening, "see with own eyes" the near-100 percent Comment agreement following the story re Cheney et al impeachment.

Godsofchaos January 3, 2008 7:10 am (Pacific time)

I would like to point out that F-16s days are numbered in our military.We always do this when we are ready to update our military we dump all of the old weapons and update. This has been done at least to my knowledge after WWI. We sold Spain our inventory then. Just thought I could add some useful information.As for encourage Pakistanis military I might get into that later.

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