U.S.-Israel Fighter Sale; Buyer for Pakistani F-16s?

The October 22 deadline passed without action by Congress to block a proposed $2.5 billion sale of U.S. fighters to Israel. The Pentagon had notified Congress on September 22 that Israel is seeking to buy 60 F-16C/D fighters or 30 F-15I fighters from Washington; under the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, Congress has 30 days following notification (15 in the case of NATO members, Australia, Japan and New Zealand) to block a proposed sale.

Currently, Israel is incorporating a 1994 buy of 25 F-15I fighters into its inventory, estimated at more than 200 F-16s and 60 to 100 F-15s. An Israeli announcement on the purchase, which is likely to be a combination of both fighters, is expected early next year.

In other fighter news, New Zealand has expressed interest in purchasing the 28 F-16 fighters that Pakistan paid $658 million for in a 1989 deal, but never received. Washington stopped delivery of the aircraft in 1990 in accordance with the 1985 Pressler Amendment, which proscribes delivery of U.S. military equipment or assistance to Pakistan if the president cannot certify that Islamabad does not possess a "nuclear explosive device." Since an April 1995 pledge by President Clinton to resolve the issue, the United States has been seeking a way to repay Pakistan and avoid a possible court case. Washington has already paid back $157 million to Islamabad, which has until February 1999 to file suit.