Islamabad, May 4 (ANI): Eight fighter pilots of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) have completed their seven month training for the advance F-16 combat jets.
The flying training conducted in Tucson, Arizona included a fighter conversion course on the F-16 C/D aircraft, flight lead upgrade training and instructor pilot certification, The Daily Times reports.
The prime motive behind the training programme was to coach the Pakistani pilots so that they could impart similar training to other pilots back home over how to handle the advanced jets.
It may be noted that the US is likely to provide four of the first 18 F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan in June.
The fighter jets are part of the 2.9 billion dollars arms package, which includes electronics and weapons upgrades for 34 existing Pakistani F-16s.
Bruce Lemkin, Deputy Under Secretary in the Pentagon for the Air Force, had earlier said that the Air Force is also reviewing Pakistan's request to loan or lease excess or decommissioned U.S. F-16s for ground operations before newer ones are delivered.
A US military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said 17 of the 18 combat aircrafts would be delivered to Islamabad by December.
It may be noted that in 1990, the U.S. halted the production of a third and fourth batch of F-16s ordered by Pakistan, due to its nuclear weapons program. 40 F-16A/B aircraft had been delivered under the Peace Gate I and II programs, however none of the Peace Gate III and IV aircraft were delivered.
However, in 2005 Islamabad finally received the go-ahead to order 24 additional F-16s, which was believed to an explicit reward for General Pervez Musharraf's support in the 'war on terror.' (ANI)