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US rewards Pak with $1.2 bn arms deal
Pentagon has proposed a $1.2 billion arms package to Pakistan - seen here as a reward to Islamabad for its cooperation with the US in its global war on terror.

The arms proposal, being offered to Pakistan in more than 14 years, is the first significant arms sale to a US ally after President Bush's re-election. Pentagon has notified US Congress, which convened after its annual recess Tuesday, of the proposal.

The arms package, which must be approved by Congress, includes eight P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft, six Phalanx rapid fire guns for the Pakistan navy and more than 2,000 TOW 2 missiles for the army, according to Pentagon sources.

It does not include the F-16 fighter jets which Pakistan has been very keen to acquire. Islamabad had asked the US for at least 18 of the new F-16s.

Congress has 30 days to object or approve the proposed arms sales. But Congressional sources said the sale is expected to sail through smoothly as the Congress - both the House and the Senate - has a Republican majority.

The delivery of an earlier batch of 60 F-16s to Pakistan was suspended in 1990 due to the Pressler sanctions which blocked the sale amid a controversy that Pakistan was clandestinely developing nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon has declined to either affirm or deny that Pakistan was still negotiating with the Bush administration over the request for F-16s.

Pentagon sources, however, said the issue of F-16 sales was periodically raised by the Pakistan government with the US but "there has been no decision at any level of the US government to provide F-16s to Pakistan."

According to a Pentagon press statement, Raytheon Co could sell more than 2,000 TOW-2A wire-guided anti-armour missiles valued at $82 million and an additional $155 million of Phalanx machine guns mounted on vessels designed to shoot down aircraft and missiles.

Eight P-3C Orion surveillance planes, built by Lockheed Martin, come at a price of $970m, while six Raytheon manufactured Phalanx rapid fire 20mm guns for the Pakistan navy as well as upgraded plans for another six gun systems are included under a separate contract for $155m.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping improve the security of a friendly nation that continues to be a key ally in the global war on terrorism," the Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which looks after foreign arms sales, said in a press statement in Washington Wednesday.

The Raytheon weapons will be produced by the company's Tucson, Arizona, facility. The P-3C aircraft would be assembled at Lockheed's Greenville, South Carolina, plant, it said.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:15 AM

 

 
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