Islamabad: The first batch of 18 F-16
combat jets ordered by Pakistan were on Tuesday rolled out during a
ceremony in the United States that was attended by Air Chief
Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman.
Speaking on the occasion, Suleman said Pakistan`s
programme to acquire new F-16 jets has seen "many ups and
downs" since the signing of the contract.
"The rollout of the first aircraft shows that the
programme is on track," he said.
The Block-52 F-16D jets were rolled out at a ceremony
held at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility at Fort Worth
in Texas, said a statement from the Pakistan Air Force.
Suleman was the chief guest at the ceremony.
Pakistan had signed a contract with the US government
for 18 F-16 C/D aircraft in in September 2006.
These jets will bolster the PAF`s fleet of combat
aircraft and will enable it to undertake a "wide variety of
missions across the entire spectrum of operations", the
After the testing and integration of new systems, the
first batch of F-16 C/D aircraft is scheduled to arrive in
Pakistan in June next year. The delivery of all 18 jets is
planned to be completed by December 2010.
Besides Suleman, the ceremony was attended by Gen
David Petraeus, chief of the US military`s Central Commmand
and Pakistan`s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani.