US to send Pakistan laser-guided bomb kits
WASHINGTON, March 2 |
WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) - The United States will deliver 1,000 laser-guided bomb kits to Pakistan this month and is considering additional arms sales to help the Pakistani air force crack down on insurgents in the Afghan border region.
Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told reporters on Tuesday the arms sales came in response to a request made by the air chief of the Pakistani air force in December.
"There continues to be a dialogue back and forth," Donley said, noting that the U.S. government had already agreed to sell Pakistan munitions and night vision goggles, and was also stepping up training.
Pakistan is also expected to receive new F-16 fighters made by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) this spring or summer, Donley said, noting that the fighter jets would give Pakistan's air force greatly expanded capabilities in its fight against "radical elements" in the border region.
Lockheed spokeswoman Laurie Quincy said the first of the 18 F-16s ordered by Pakistan was accepted by the Pakistani government in December but was still completing preparations to be ferried to the country later this year.
Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeffry Glenn said the United States delivered 1,000 MK-82 500-pound bombs to Pakistan last month, and was considering additional requests for those bombs and more laser-guided tail kits.
Glenn said an initial batch of 700 GBU-12 and 300 GBU-10 Paveway laser-guided bomb kits built by Lockheed and Raytheon Co (RTN.N) would be delivered to Pakistan this month, allowing the Pakistani air force to outfit the MK-82 bombs delivered last month with sophisticated technology that allows better targeting of the weapons.
The expected delivery later this year of 18 F-16s to Pakistan will bring its inventory of the planes to 54. Pakistan has been operating F-16s since 1982.
Donley said Pakistan was also upgrading the capabilities of its older F-16 fighter jets. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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