Cablegate: F-16 Security Notes: Request for Two Specific
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 002794
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/29/2017
TAGS: MCAP MOPS PGOV PK PREL
SUBJECT: F-16 SECURITY NOTES: REQUEST FOR TWO SPECIFIC
CHANGES THAT WILL BENEFIT COALITION OPERATIONS.
Classified By: Charge Peter Bodde 1.5 (b), (d).
1. (C) Pakistan's September 2006 agreement to purchase 18
new F-16 aircraft marked an important milestone in our
alliance. The agreement signaled Pakistan's and the United
States' intent to continue strengthening our security
relationship. We are grateful for both State's and DoD's
enormous efforts to facilitate both this sale and the
separate transfer of Excess Defense Article F-16s.
2. (C) For the sake of our own national security, as well
as to safeguard the long-term viability of our security
assistance relationship with Pakistan, maintaining the
security of technology related to F-16s is preeminently
important. We understand and support most of the security
notes that accompany the September 2006 Letter of Offer and
Acceptance for new F-16s. That said, we believe two specific
provisions of the security notes will harm Pakistan's
operational effectiveness and may negatively impact Coalition
operations in Afghanistan.
3. (C) Paragraph 9 of the security notes place two unusual
requirements on Pakistan:
--The F-16 Aircraft, armaments, and related equipment and
technical data must be housed on separate pre-designated
Pakistan Air Force bases to ensure no unauthorized access.
Furthermore, Pakistan may not have non-U.S./non-Pakistan
origin aircraft or personnel at any of the bases with these
F-16 aircraft and related equipment.
--No foreign units or personnel may be permanently or
temporarily assigned at the bases where F-16 aircraft are
assigned, parked, maintained, or stored, or while deployed.
4. (C) Post understands the importance of ensuring that
non-Pakistani, non-U.S. personnel do not have access to
restricted U.S. technology. That said, requiring separate
bases for the F-16s does not necessarily further this goal
beyond what would be possible using other techniques.
Indeed, restricting the access of Pakistani-owned foreign
aircraft to F-16 bases does not directly correlate to
restricting the access of foreign nationals to those bases.
Meanwhile, the above-noted restrictions could cause serious
humanitarian, safety, logistical, and operational
difficulties for Pakistan. Not incidentally, the requirement
that third countries, including our NATO allies, be denied
access to special F-16 bases could impede our own operational
5. (C) We note that:
--Pakistan's search and rescue helicopters are primarily of
Russian and French origin. Some of Pakistan's air lift
capacity is European-manufactured Casa 235s. If Pakistan
cannot base these aircraft with the F-16s, Pakistani
personnel (and U.S. trainers) could be unnecessarily
endangered. At the very least, operational effectiveness
would be hurt by lack of access to Casa 235 capabilities.
--Not allowing foreign units or personnel to deploy to F-16
bases would deny non-U.S. Coalition aircraft operating in
Afghanistan access to those facilities. Such a policy would
be counterproductive to our interests in the region.
Similarly, our Long War needs require Pakistan to be flexible
in its deployment capabilities. Restricting Pakistan's
access to its own bases would limit this flexibility, as
would denying Pakistan access to Coalition bases outside of
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--The basing restrictions prevent Pakistan from launching a
unified strike package of U.S. and non-U.S. aircraft from a
single air base. As pre-mission briefings are essential to
safety and effectiveness, this would be a serious handicap
for the Pakistan Air Force.
--Currently, all Pakistan Air Force fighter pilots train
employment tactics at a single air base. Under the F-16
security restrictions, F-16 pilots would be required to train
at a separate facility, an expensive and inefficient
6. (C) In light of the potential for paragraph 9 of the
current security notes to adversely impact both Pakistan's
and the United States' operational effectiveness, we propose
that the note be changed so that the F-16s can be stored in
"separate but co-located" portions of existing air bases.
Under such a plan, the U.S. would establish stringent
requirements for the foundation and maintenance of "separate
but co-located" basing facilities for the F-16s. We believe
that, so long as the U.S. ensures adequate attention to
detail as we establish requirements for co-located
facilities, we could ensure as much security for our
technology as at a dedicated air base.
7. (C) Other recommendations:
--There should be a waiver process for more of the F-16
security requirements. Currently, many of the requirements
can only be waived or changed by amending the Letter of Offer
and Acceptance. A waiver requiring "the written permission
of the Department of State" is available for some of the
requirements; we believe it would be appropriate for many of
the others. Authorizing such waivers would enable Coalition
or third country (NATO ally) access to bases during
humanitarian emergencies and other urgent situations.
--The U.S. should begin security training regarding the F-16
program as soon as possible. The more Pakistani personnel
familiar with security requirements at an early date, the