In December of 1998, the US government finally found a customer for the 28 Pakistani-ordered Block 15 F-16A/Bs that had been sitting at AMARC after having been embargoed because of Pakistan's nuclear weapons policies. The customer was New Zealand.
In mid-1999, a lease/buy contract was signed for 28 ex-Pakistani Block 15 F-16A/Bs. These planes are powered by F100-PW-200E turbofans. Part of the deal is a set of Block II Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-131 ECM pods, plus Rafael LITENING II targeting pods.
The F-16A/Bs were scheduled to replace the RNZAF's A-4K/TA-4K Skyhawks in Nos 2 and 75 Squadrons beginning in March 2001. However, the whole deal became bogged down over financing questions and over domestic political issues. The Labour government of New Zealand felt that the cost of the F-16s was too high and that funds would be better spent on other areas of defense. However, the New Zealand Ministry of Defense felt that the current fleet of A-4s will not remain viable much longer, and that New Zealand urgently needs a modern combat aircraft. The debate came to an end on March 20, 2000, when the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced that the plan to acquire the 28 ex-Pakistani F-16s had been dropped. The A-4 Skyhawks will have to soldier on for the indefinite future.