A top American diplomat had reportedly sent a letter to the chief of Pakistan’s Air Force, accusing of misusing the F16 fighter jets, supplied by the USA, against India in February 2019.
As per a report published by USNews.com, the documents obtained by them, the top US diplomat had accused Pakistan of jeopardising the security of both nations. As per the report, the letter was written by Andrea Thompson, the then-undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs in August this year. The letter reportedly states that it is a direct response to the concerns of the US regarding the use of F16s in air combat with India in February, though it does not specify the incident.
It is notable here that Pakistan is bound by terms of the contract with the US over the use of the F16s. The usage of US-supplied F16s in a potentially escalating conflict between two nuclear-powered nations was reportedly seen as a fundamental violation of the terms under which Pakistan had obtained those jets.
When Pakistan acquired F16s from the USA, it came with an end-use monitoring agreement that said that Pakistan could use the F16s to defend itself and its war, albeit a fictitious one, against terror. However, Pakistan could not use the F16s to escalate or for any form of aggression against a sovereign nation.
The said letter was reportedly sent to the head of the Pakistani air force, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, and mentioned State Department’s confirmation that Pakistan had moved the F16s and accompanying American-made missiles to unapproved forward operating bases in defiance of its agreement with the US. Thompson has since left the US government.
Thompson’s letter had reportedly warned Pakistan that their behaviour risked allowing these weapons to fall into the hands of malign actors and “could undermine the shared security platforms and infrastructure.”
Thompson, as per the report, had admonished Pakistan for having “relocated, maintained and operated” the American made F-16s and the AMRAAM missiles they use from forward operating bases not approved under the original terms of the sale.
It is notable here that the Indian Air Force had presented the remains of an AMRAAM missile which was used to attack Indian military installations in a press conference in February after the dogfight. These missiles are only carried on F16 jets. These parts were recovered east of Rajouri.
Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s Mig 21 Bison had shot down an F16. India had highlighted the usage of Pakistan’s US-supplied F16s and AMRAAM missiles against India in air combat. Following the incident, the US had also sought a report from Pakistan over the use of F16s against India.
Pakistan had categorically denied using F16s. The Indian Air Force displayed pieces of the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile that was used to target Indian military installations. The pieces of this missile were found next to Rajouri, in Indian territory. The air to air missile is an American made missile which can be carried only on the American made F16.
The Pakistani jets had ventured into Indian airspace following the airstrike by Indian Air Force on the JeM terrorist camps in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan’s territory. After the usage of US-supplied F16 against India in violation of the terms were exposed, Pakistan had desperately tried to save face by claiming that the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile was purchased from Taiwan.
The Taiwan Air Force had denied ever selling the said missile to Pakistan, saying that the US-made missiles were for the usage of their military and not for sale.