US 'very closely' following reports of F-16 misuse by Pakistan: State Dept
The US is "very closely" following the reports which have claimed that Pakistan misused American-made F-16 fighter jets against India in the recent aerial confrontation between the air forces of the two countries, a top State Department official has said.
The Indian Air Force on Thursday displayed parts of an AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir after India's anti-terror operation in Balakot.
Pakistan has said that no F-16 fighter jets were used. The US State Department has said that America is seeking more information from Pakistan on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jets by it against India in violation of the end-user agreement. "We've seen those reports and we're following that issue very closely," US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters at his biweekly news conference on Tuesday.
He was responding to questions that Pakistan has violated the end-user agreement on F-16 that it procured from the United States. "I can't confirm anything, but as a matter of policy, we don't publicly comment on the contents of bilateral agreements that we have in this regard involving US defence technologies nor the communications that we have with other countries about that.
"So, we're taking a look and we're going to continue to take a look. I'm going to leave it at that," Palladino said. AMRAAM missiles allow a fighter pilot to target an enemy aircraft that is beyond visual range, in day or night, and in all-weather conditions. They have an autonomous guidance capability, which allows the pilot to manoeuvre immediately after the missile's launch. Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
India launched a counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 and captured its pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India on Friday.