Accusing the US of stripping down the F-16s to less than effective and imposing unacceptable conditions for usage, Pakistan has delayed signing the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) for the USD 3 billion deal till December 31, 2006 . The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) says that the stripped down version being offered said that lack of vital electronic warfare systems, including the much-touted radar warning receiver (RWR), would render the aircraft ineffective to deliver nuclear weapons or to penetrate “well-defended” foreign airspaces.
The RWR will contain a library of only non-NATO aircraft thereby making it vulnerable to NATO aircraft attacking these F-16s using beyond visual range capability.
According to State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs submitted to House Intelligence Committee in July, the US intended to maintain a presence at bases which stationed F-16s to monitor compliance of a “approved security plans” before the country released the aircraft. Further, under the conditions of sale, access to aircraft will be restricted only to pre-approved PAF personnel. These conditions are supposed to give the US access, influence, and allow it to be involved in a “leadership” position in determining how the F-16s were used. The US particularly guarded against transferring technology to other countries (meaning China ) with which Pakistan had defense cooperation.
However, PAF Chief Air Marshal Tanvir Ahmed denied any operational restrictions on F-16s saying that Pakistan was “fully empowered to use our platforms” whenever and however it wants. He discounted the restrictions placed by US air-force monitors because that was the process as in 1960 with the F-104 star fighter and 1983 with the F-16s. Similarly, France and China also sent their personnel to provide PAF technical assistance during the early days.
While Musharraf said that he will take this matter up with President George Bush, the outcome of that discussion is not known