US starts delivery of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan

July 11th, 2007  

Topic: US starts delivery of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan

US starts delivery of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan Two jets land at Mushaf Base in Sargodha

MUSHAF BASE, Sargodha: The United States on Tuesday started delivery of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan as two of the Fighter Falcons were handed over to Pakistan Air Force here on Tuesday.

A handing-over ceremony was held here where two F-16 flown from USA landed. Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood Ahmed, US Ambassador Anne W Peterson, and a large number of senior PAF officers were present on the occasion.

Commander Central Air Command US Air force Lt-Gen Gary L North along with his another colleague flew the aircraft and reached here after a continuous flight of over eight hours. This hand-over kick starts the delivery of the fleet of a dozen aircraft to Pakistan.

Talking to APP, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood Ahmed said the remaining 10 aircraft would be given to Pakistan in batches by mid next year. "These are exceptionally used aircraft and are being given to us at very nominal prices," he said and thanked the US Air Force chief, who made available the 12 aircraft for Pakistan.

In addition to these aircraft, he said efforts are afoot to get a lot of 16 aircraft, which is in the use of the US Navy as part of a fleet of total 28 aircraft Pakistan had paid for. Offer has been made by the US administration to get similar number of aircraft from the US National Guards.

But, the air chief said, the aircraft, being extensively used, would not be much feasible to induct in the PAF's fleet. However, negotiations with the US Navy are on to convince them to spare the lot for PAF. These 28 aircraft (Pakistan had ordered) were especially manufactured for PAF in line with its requirements. "After lapse of over 15 years these aircraft are in home."

About the delivery of new F-16 aircraft to Pakistan, he said these are being manufactured and the delivery would start in next three years.

On the renovation and overhaul of the existing fleet of the F-16 aircraft, the air chief said under the Mid-Life Upgradation Programme, six aircraft would be overhauled in the US, where PAF technicians would be given training for this purpose. "We will make every effort to acquire technical know-how ultimately enabling us to undergo overhauls and upgradations of the aircraft indigenously," he said.

Speaking at the formal handing over ceremony, the US Ambassador Peterson said the US will continue to assist Pakistan in furthering its defence capabilities. She also appreciated the professionalism of the PAF officers and men.

The ceremony was marked by the school children who welcomed both the aircraft, while waving the flags of Pakistan and the US. Later, souvenirs were exchanged to mark culmination of the ceremony.

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