Thailand Cancels F/A-18 Buy; Pakistan May Sue

On March 13, U.S. officials announced the cancellation of a purchase of eight F/A-18 fighters by Thailand as a result of the country's continuing economic crisis. Thailand will receive no refund of the $75 million already paid for the aircraft and the United States will assume $250 million in payments for the fighters, which will be delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps.

In another case of non-delivery of U.S. weapons, momentum is building in Pakistan to file a lawsuit against the United States for refusing to refund $658 million Islamabad paid for 28 F-16 fighter aircraft that Washington failed to deliver. The United States has paid back approximately $150 million.

According to recent Pakistani press reports, Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan has said Pakistan is preparing to sue the United States for a full refund for the fighters, which the United States stopped delivery of in 1990 in accordance with the 1985 "Pressler Amendment." That legislation forbids the U.S. government from delivering military equipment and technology to Pakistan if the president cannot certify to Congress that Pakistan does not possess a "nuclear explosive device." The United States delivered arms worth $368 million to Pakistan under a one-time exemption to the Pressler amendment, but the aircraft were excluded.

In both cases, the United States sought a third buyer for the aircraft, but all efforts failed. If Pakistan decides to resort to legal action, Islamabad must file a suit before the statute of limitations expires in February 1999.