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The United States’ decision to supply 500 AIM-120C AMRAAM variants to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in 2005 has been a subject of debate, particularly concerning its purpose and potential implications for regional security.

The AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is a sophisticated weapon system designed for air combat engagements. Its procurement by the PAF, intended for use on their F-16 fleet, has been interpreted by some as a strategic move aimed at countering India’s airborne early warning and control systems (AWACS) and flight refueling aircraft that United States Administration were very well aware.

As informed to PAF officials argued that IAF acquiring IL-76 based AWACS gives undue advantage and required AMRAAM to counter it. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) placed an order in early 2006 for 500 AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM missiles under its $650m F-16 ammunition contract.

This decision, made in 2005 as part of the broader cooperation between the United States and Pakistan in the war on terror, that was met with concern and protest from India, where India was told that the F-16s were being supplied for counter-terrorist operations in Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas (FATA). Assurances were given that the F-16 Block-52 aircraft provided to Pakistan, funded by American taxpayers, would not be used against India. However, events in 2019 cast doubt on these assurances. US supplied 500 AIM-120C5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) along with it 240 LAU-129/A Launchers , 12 AMRAAM training missiles.

Soon after . The PAF signed its first order in 2006 for six AEW&Cs (plus one standard Saab 2000) for $1.15 billion US. However, this order was reduced to four aircraft due to the 2005 earthquake in POK.

During aerial skirmishes between India and Pakistan in 2019, Pakistan employed older F-16 Block-15 MLU fighter jets instead of the newer Block-52 variants, as per the alleged agreement. Initially, Pakistan denied the use of even the Block-15 jets against India. However, evidence presented by India, including wreckage from an AIM-120C AMRAAM missile fired against an Indian Su-30MKI aircraft, forced Pakistan to acknowledge their usage.

Notably, while the AIM-120C AMRAAM missed its intended target due to limitations in its engagement range, it was successfully employed to down an Indian MiG-21Bis, piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, at close range. This incident highlighted America’s Dubious stands and how Pakistan did exactly what India had warned United States about.

State Department later confirmed that that Pakistan had moved the F-16s and accompanying American-made missiles to unapproved forward operating bases in defiance of its agreement with the U.S. The Pakistani armed forces possess 76 American-supplied F-16s – by far the most potent fighter jet in its military arsenal. Pakistan first began receiving the plane in 1982 and maintains them under strict rules imposed by the State Department, the Department of Defense and Congress. Pakistan acquired 18 new Block 50/52 F-16C/Ds post 2005 that was delivered in 2010-11. out of 72 it posses rest are older Block 15 aircraft with MLU.

In the aftermath of these events, the United States has refrained from resupplying additional AIM-120C AMRAAM variants to Pakistan. Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the combat readiness of the existing stockpile, as these missiles approach two decades of storage, potentially leading to diminished performance.

PAF tried to procure much more potent AIM-120D variant of the missile but that was denied after 2019, PAF has now joined Turkey’s Gökdo?an program to procure Turkey’s first indigenous air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) that will have a range of 65–100 km but it will be come only to the older Block 15 MLU that means newer and more capable 18 Block 50/52 F-16C/Ds will run out of older AIM-120C AMRAAM unless United States agrees to resupply them.