September 2, 2014 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has delivered the last four F-16 aircraft to Pakistan, upgraded as part of the "Peace Drive II" program, at a ceremony held today at its facilities in Ankara, Turkey,
PAF F-16BM is parked into the TAI factory after receiving the MLU update in September of 2014. [TAI photo]
The company, also known by the acronym TUSAŞ (Türk Havacılık ve Uzay Sanayi), signed a contract to upgrade and test aircraft with Pakistan
’s Ministry of Defense in 2009. Under the program, Turkish technicians were to upgrade and test 41 aircraft and the first of the planes was delivered two years ago.
The second edition of the Peace Drive program, which started in October 2010, was due completion by September 2014. The required parts, materials and technical data was given to TUSAS as part of another contract between the U.S. government and the Pakistani Air Force.
Via both classroom and on-the-job training TAI has also been providing training to 72 PAF
technicians, so that they can subsequently work alongside its workforce on upgrading the F-16s.
TUSAS's chairman Yalcın Kaya said that "the upgraded F-16s would certainly and proudly increase Pakistan Air Force's reliability and functionality."
"This program is not just a project about the collaboration and a long-lasting brotherhood between the two countries. It also comprises of efforts in the detailed planning and accurate technical works resulting in the top quality proven outcome at the end," Kaya said.
TAI was established in 1984 to coproduce F-16s for the Turkish air force, and is now pitching its expertise to other F-16 operators. It has done structural and avionics upgrades on the Royal Jordanian Air Force’s F-16s and is now modernizing 175 Turkish F-16s.