Pakistan gets first of 18 new F-16s

The F16 fighter jet

Officials including the chiefs of staff of the US and Pakistan air forces were on hand to witness the event at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, facility on Tuesday.
 
Air Chief Marshal Rao Quamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), accepted the first F-16 Block 52 aircraft on behalf of Islamabad. Also present were Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, and other senior officials.
 
Suleman said the roll out shows that the programme is "on track" despite it experiencing many ups and downs. The US government was represented by Kay Granger, a House member from Texas and Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
 
"Peace Drive is the flagship of modernisation for Pakistan's Air Force. It is the latest configuration of the best fourth generation multirole fighter available in the world today," said John Larson, vice president of F-16 programmes for Lockheed Martin. The aircraft order is designated as 'Peace Drive I', continuing a long tradition of naming F-16 international sales programmes with the word Peace.

The programme raises the total number of F-16s ordered by Pakistan to 54. The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the Block 15 F-16A/B configuration, in 1982. Pakistan has been operating Lockheed Martin aircraft since 1963, when it received C-130B airlifters.

The Peace Drive I order is for 12 F-16Cs and six F-16Ds, all powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine. The first aircraft - a two-seat F-16D model - will be delivered to the US government (as agent for Pakistan in the Foreign Military Sales process) in December, with the remainder following in 2010.

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