US delivers two F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan

The United States has delivered two F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan and will hand over another 24 shortly, the US Embassy said Wednesday. Pakistan received the two planes Tuesday at a ceremony at an air base in the western city of Sargodha attended by US Ambassador Anne Patterson and senior Pakistani and US air force officials. The 26 aircraft, provided by the US Air Force, will join 34 F-16s already in Pakistan's armory, the statement said. They are separate from an order for 18 new F-16 signed last September. The delivery "symbolizes the US intent to remain engaged with Pakistan over the long term, just as we do with any other important ally and friend," Patterson said at the ceremony. The George W. Bush administration approved the sale of the 18 new jets last year. The package included an option for Pakistan to order more jets and to get used aircraft refurbished.