Pak, US discuss PAF's F-16 programme
Islamabad: Pakistan and the US today discussed the Pakistan Air Force's F-16 programme, including a mid-life upgrade of its fleet of older combat jets.
US Ambassador Richard Olson met PAF chief Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt at Air Headquarters and discussed the F-16 programme and "various areas of further corporation?" a PAF statement said.
Later, Olson visited Shahbaz airbase for an on-site briefing on the F-16 programme.
A statement from the US Embassy said Olson and Butt reviewed the F-16 programme but did not give details.
Official sources said an ongoing upgrade of 45 F-16s of the PAF in Turkey figured in the discussions.
The Turkish Aerospace Industries will refurbish the jets under a contract signed in October 2010.
The first batch of three upgraded F-16 jets was delivered to Pakistan last year.
Olson said the F-16 programme represented a concrete example of US-Pakistan cooperation "to support our shared security goals and to promote peace and stability in the region".
He reaffirmed the importance of a strong US-Pakistan security relationship during the meeting with Butt.
"Both sides affirmed their mutual commitment to a strong defence relationship which they agreed should focus on achieving common objectives," the US Embassy statement said.
The PAF has been flying F-16s since the early 1980s.
In 2008, PAF bought the advanced Block 52 model, which provides all-weather and day-night precision targeting capability.
The US delivered 18 new F-16 D Block 52 jets to Pakistan in 2011-12. The US Foreign Military Assistance programme is helping PAF upgrade its fleet of older F-16 aircraft.