The US has again pitched the F-16 fighter jets to India. After India inked the S-400 deal with Russia, the Trump administration, according to reports, has conveyed to Indian that it could avoid US sanctions if India purchases the F-16 fighter jets from the United States.
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Indian, however, is not interested to buy the F-16 fighter jets as they are already in service with Pakistan and does not evaluate them very highly. The fallout of the Trump administration’s reaction to the S-400 deal featured in the wide-ranging discussion between Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and US counterpart James Mattis in Singapore but according to sources, sanctions could be waived off for buying F-16 fighter jets.
Sitharaman is also scheduled to visit the US in mid-December but it is not certain if Mattis would still be a part of the Trump administration then.
Even though Mattis has been a vocal supporter of a CAATSA waiver for India, but the State Department officials have said that “There are no blanket waivers that will be issued for any one country”, and any waiver under CAATSA “would require, among other things, countries to significantly reduce their reliance on Russian arms”.
Sanctions under CAATSA would be triggered once Delhi makes a payment for the Russian equipment. India likely to make a part payment of the $4.5-billion deal with Russia this financial year.
Although US officials assured Indian that the F-16 being offered to India is F-16 Block 70, far superior to Block 50/52 in Pakistan’s arsenal, Delhi is not keen on buying a fighter aircraft which has been with Pakistan Air Force for nearly three decades.