WASHINGTON    -   The US administration has announced the ap­proval of the poten­tial sale of F-16 aircraft sustainment and relat­ed equipment to Paki­stan in a deal valued at up to$450 million, a move that Ambassador Masood Khan welcomed.

“The State Depart­ment has made a de­termination approving a possible Foreign Mili­tary Sale to the Govern­ment of Pakistan of F-16 Case for Sustainment and related equipment for an estimated cost of $450 million,” the de­

‘partment said. The Defence Security Coop­eration Agency (DSCA) delivered the re­quired certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on Wednesday.

“This is a positive development,” the Pa­kistan envoy said, adding, “We welcome it.” He added, “This should be a new beginning to reinforce closer, broad-based ties be­tween Pakistan and the US.”

“The proposed sale will continue the sus­tainment of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, which greatly improves Pakistan’s ability to sup­port counterterrorism operations through its robust air-to-ground capability,” the State Department said, adding that Paki­stan will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.

According to the Congressional notifica­tion, the proposed sale does not include any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions.

It said that Pakistan had requested to consolidate prior F-16 sustainment and support cases to support the Pakistan Air Force F-16 fleet by reducing duplicate case activities and adding additional continued support elements.

“This proposed sale will support the for­eign policy and national security objec­tives of the United States by allowing Pa­kistan to retain interoperability with U.S. and partner forces in ongoing counterter­rorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations,” according to the notification.

Included are U.S. Government and con­tractor engineering, technical, and logistics services for follow-on support of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet to include:

Participation in F-16 Aircraft Structural Integrity Programme;

Electronic Combat International Secu­rity Assistance Programme;

International Engine Management Pro­gramme;

Engine Component Improvement Pro­gramme, and other technical coordina­tion groups;

Aircraft and engine hardware and soft­ware modifications and support;

Aircraft and engine spare repair/return parts;

Accessories and support equipment;

Classified and unclassified software and software support;

Publications, manuals, and technical documentation;

Precision measurement, calibration, lab equipment, and technical support ser­vices;

Studies and surveys, and,

Other related elements of aircraft main­tenance and programme support.

The principal contractor will be Lock­heed Martin Corporation, Fort Worth, Tex­as, according to the notification. There are no known offsets proposed in conjunction with this sale, it added.