May 2, 2010 (by Asif Shamim) - Eight experienced Pakistan Air Force pilots, who have flown the F-16A/B, recently learned to fly the newer C/D model aircraft at the 162nd Fighter Wings, international F-16 training unit at Tucson International Airport.
PAF F-16C block 52 #10901 is taxiing by the lens at NAS Fort Worth on December 15th, 2009 after performing a functional check flight. [Photo by Sebastiaan Does]
The graduation ceremony will be held at Pima Air and Space Museum on Tuesday, May 4.
Guest speakers include Air Marshal Waseem Ud Din, the Pakistan
Air Force deputy chief of staff, and Brig. Gen. Lyn D. Sherlock, the director of regional affairs, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs.
The pilots are the first to train in the US since the last Pakistani class was completed in 1983 at Luke AFB
"This graduation is historic for U.S.-Pakistan relations," said Pakistan Air Force Wing Commander Ghazanfar Latif, a 12-year F-16A pilot. "For Pakistan, our air force is gaining capabilities that it has needed for the last decade; capabilities that are critical to ongoing operations in Pakistan's war on terror."
Pakistan has recently purchased 18 of the latest F-16C block 52
aircraft and is in the process of upgrading its 30 year old fleet of F-16s to the MLU
standard. The block 52s allow pilots to conduct night operations and handle enhanced precision munitions.
The first four block 52s are due to arrive in country on June 26th at Shahbaz Air Base in the South-west province of Sindh.
In preparation for the June delivery, the eight pilots took on seven months of training in Tucson that included a transition course from the F-16A/B to the F-16C/D, flight lead upgrade training and instructor pilot certification so they can return home and teach others to fly the new F-16s.