India's Defense Minister Rajnath Singh participates in a joint news conference during the fourth US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue at the State Department in Washington, DC on April 11, 2022. (MICHAEL MCCOY / POOL / AFP)
The US-built aircraft are a critical part of the military arsenal of Pakistan, whose arch-rival India worries that the fleet could be used against it by its neighbor.
India and Pakistan have gone to war on three occasions
Last week, the US State Department approved the potential sale of sustainment and related equipment to Pakistan in a deal valued at up to US$450 million, with the principal contractor being Lockheed Martin Corp.
"I conveyed India’s concern at the recent US decision to provide a sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet," Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter following what he called a "warm and productive" telephone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Singh's ministry said the two also reviewed US-Indian defence cooperation and reiterated their commitment to further strengthen military-to-military ties.
India and Pakistan have gone to war on three occasions. In 2019 they engaged in an aerial battle over the disputed region of Kashmir, during which India said it had shot down a Pakistani F-16 after one of its own jets was brought down. Pakistan denied that one of its F-16s was downed.
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