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Cablegate: F-16 Basing: Request for Basing Review

VZCZCXRO3210
PP RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #3246 2071354
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261354Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0699
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 7362
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 6062
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1432
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 6830
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 2972
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 1389
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2718
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L ISLAMABAD 003246

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2017
TAGS: MARR PREL PK
SUBJECT: F-16 BASING: REQUEST FOR BASING REVIEW

REF: (A) ISLAMABAD 3168 (B) ISLAMABAD 2794

Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.5 (b), (d).

1. (C) Summary and Action Request. Following Ambassador's
July 21 meeting with Pakistan Air Chief Marshall Tanvir, post
requests a review of paragraph 9 (basing and personnel
restrictions) of the pending security notes for the $3
billion sale of 18 block 52 F-16s to Pakistan before the
Congressional hearing scheduled for August 16.

2. (C) The purpose of the sale was two-fold: to augment
Pakistan's defensive capacity; and to send a strong political
signal that the U.S. intends to remain engaged in Pakistan.
Current basing and personnel restrictions make full use of
the aircraft impractical, effectively sub-optimizing the
capabilities of the aircraft and undermining the purpose of
the sale. Post believes there is scope to amend these
restrictions in a way that both protects U.S. security
interests and enables more effective use of the aircraft for
Pakistani and U.S. interests. End Summary and Action Request.


3. (C) Ref A reports on Ambassador's July 21 meeting with
Pakistan Air Chief Marshall Tanvir to inform him that
mid-life upgrades to Pakistan's existing F-16 and EDA F-16
aircraft must occur outside of Pakistan. Tanvir reported that
the Pakistan Air Force would base its new block 52 F-16s
(currently in production) and some MLU aircraft at Shabaz
Airfield in Jacobabad. He requested information on the
security survey soonest so the Pakistan Air force can begin
making the necessary budget and engineering decisions
necessary to comply with the security notes.

4. (C) Tanvir stated that Shabaz would be an all F-16 base;
however, he stressed the need to also base French
manufactured Alouette rescue helicopters at Shabaz for safety
reasons. As we noted in Ref B, other foreign origin aircraft
-- particularly Spanish made C-235s for supply and troop
transport and Russian and Ukrainian built MI-17 helicopters
for troop transport -- would also need access to Shabaz if
the Pakistan Air Force were to efficiently carry out its
day-to-day operations and training.

5. (C) Post appreciates support for the waiver process we
proposed in Ref B but also requests a review of the personnel
restrictions to determine how they could negatively affect
joint exercises and Pakistani pilot training.

6. Comment: Strict interpretation and adherence to current
basing restrictions will cause serious operational, training
and safety problems for the Pakistan Air Force and will
impose added costs beyond those expected to arise from the
security survey. Further, the basing restrictions, in our
view, simply do not improve the security of U.S. technology.
We believe it should be possible to monitor the security of
the F-16s while allowing Pakistani-owned, foreign
manufactured aircraft access to a different part of the same
base. We request Washington consider ways to both meet our
national security needs and help Pakistan obtain the most
operational value from their significant investment in these
F-16s.


PATTERSON

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