Pakistan has agreed to reopen its ground supply routes into Afghanistan to US and NATO forces, thereby allowing them to move materiel and equipment in and out of Afghanistan once again at a significantly lower cost than air transport. “This is a tangible demonstration of Pakistan’s support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region,” said State Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton in a July 3 statement. Despite past threats to hike up the shipping cost per container, Pakistan will not charge a transit fee “in the larger interest of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region,” she added. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta welcomed the decision. “As I have made clear, we remain committed to improving our partnership with Pakistan and to working closely together as our two nations confront common security challenges in the region,” he said in a statement on July 3. Pakistan closed these land routes last November after several dozen Pakistani soldiers lost their lives in a skirmish with NATO forces on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.