F-16s can deliver nuclear weapons

From the horse’s mouth

Regarding the nuclear capability of the F-16s, he said that was no problem as most of the present-age aircraft are already capable of carrying nuclear weaponry. “We already have this capability.” [Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat/The News]

That’s the chief of the Pakistani air force confirming that F-16s are, after all, capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The Arms Control Wonk cites several sources that indicate that the United States knew, as early as 1992, that Pakistan had acquired the capability to deliver nuclear weapons after rejigging the F-16s.

“Moreover, unless US military aid is resumed, Pakistan’s ability to deliver nuclear weapons with F-16s will erode over time.” [NSC report to Congress, 1993 via ACW]

The Bush administration’s award of major non-NATO ally status to Pakistan has already checked that process of erosion. Due to geopolitical reasons, as pointed out by Bill Rice and Dan, the Indian government may have reconciled to the Bush administration’s decision to sell the fighting falcons to Pakistan; but the fact remains that Pakistan’s nuclear delivery capabilities have just been enhanced.

7 thoughts on “F-16s can deliver nuclear weapons”

  1. Pingback: vichaar.org
  2. How is any of this new?
    Also last time you commented on this I had some criticism about the F-16 as a delivery platform versus Missiles as well as what Pakistans offense abilites are. How has this changed anything?

  3. Robi,

    Before the Bush administration confirmed the sale, I did’nt hear anyone from Pakistan saying that they were capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

  4. Nitin,

    Your email account was “full” so I thought I would comment here. Bill Roggio of the Fourth Rail and Winds of Change emailed me a link to an interesting piece at NTI.org on India’s real reaction to the F-16 sale. Here is an excerpt:

    “Indian officials have publicly said only that they would consider the U.S. offer, but, ‘Even India, with a long tradition of making foreign policy self-goals, will find it hard to say ‘no’ to the extraordinary offer the Bush administration has put on the table — a promise to assist it in becoming a world power in return for resumption of arms sales to Pakistan,’ said longtime South Asian commentator C. Raja Mohan.

    Mohan expressed doubt that India was genuinely concerned about seeing more F-16s in Pakistan.

    ‘Today, no one in India can credibly argue that additional F-16s in Pakistan’s hands will alter the military balance in South Asia,’ he said.”

    The post can be found here: http://dawnsearlylight.blogs.com/del/2005/03/supporting_evid.html

    Kind regards,

  5. Gentlemen,

    I’d like you to ponder on Kaushik Kapisthalam’s article in the Washington Times. A purely military balance has never been a key determinant behind Pakistani military adventurism.

    South Asia historians know that whenever the Pakistanis military feels strong or gets a shot in the arm, it has tended to undertake risky military actions against India, especially over the disputed Kashmir region, which Pakistan covets. Wars in 1965, skirmishes in 1999 as well as close calls in the late 1980s and early 1990s bear out this theory. In addition, war risk is historically compounded when a military dictator rules Pakistan, as is the case now.

    Most Indian strategists and some Western analysts say a militarily uncertain Pakistan is more conducive for regional peace. Prominent South Asia expert Stephen P. Cohen has written in the past that it was good for the United States that after 9/11 it had great relations with India as it essentially forced Pakistan to agree to most U.S. terms when faced with a critical decision on whether to become a U.S. ally against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

    Another Western academic who has visited Pakistan many times noted to this author last year that it was to America’s advantage that the Pakistanis relied on U.S. goodwill to essentially persuade India to back off from attacking Pakistan during the 2002 border crisis that followed a terrorist attack on India’s parliament.

    “That lifesaving power gave Americans enormous leverage which should not be frittered away by strengthening Pakistan militarily with strategic weapons,” the academic added. It now appears that the United States has decided to give up that leverage.

    It is likely now that after the initial period of euphoria, Pakistan could begin to harden its attitude against India. Because it is unlikely U.S. diplomats will attach any strings to the F-16s, the Pakistanis could very well interpret this as a sign of U.S. dependency on Pakistan in the war on terror. U.S. scholar Jack Gill of the National Defense University has written Pakistani leaders have a history of misreading or ignoring U.S. messages especially when it comes to military adventures. As a result, he noted U.S. policy has many times led to the “inadvertent strengthening of those (Pakistanis) who advocated risky military strategies rather than political or diplomatic resolution of issues.” Unfortunately, one can be almost certain the F-16 sale has a great risk of turning out to be one such policy move.[Washington Times]

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