The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) will receive 18 F-16 block 52 aircraft from Lockheed Martin later this month as part of a foreign military sale (FMS) of 36 F-16C/D block 50/52 aircraft announced in June 2005.
Under the US-Pakistan F-16 programme, Lockheed was awarded a contract for 12 F-16C and six F-16D block 52 aircraft in December 2006. The delivery comes at a time when military aid for Pakistan has been almost completely halted by the US in the wake of a series of crises affecting the bilateral relationship between the two nations.
Pakistan has already received block 52 versions of the F-16 aircraft, which includes day-night, all-weather and precision-attack capabilities. The compact multirole, single-engine Lockheed Martin-built F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft has a high level of manoeuvrability, a top speed of 2,124km/h, and can detect planes flying at very low altitudes. The F-16 block 52 aircraft provides additional fuel and payload capacity, improved avionics and sensors, and colour cockpit displays with enhanced pilot/vehicle interfaces.
The AN/APG-68 radar-equipped F-16 with wind-corrected munitions dispenser infrared navigation provides the pilot with separate air-to-air and air-to-ground modes, including long-range, all-aspect detection and tracking, simultaneous multiple-target tracking and high-resolution ground mapping. The F-16 jets are widely deployed by the air forces of Israel, Egypt, Iraq, New Zealand, South Korea, Chile, Poland, UAE, Bahrain, Greece and Singapore.
The US is also working with the PAF to update 45 F-16s from its existing fighter fleet through the US foreign military financing security assistance programme. The aircraft are currently undergoing mid-life upgrades and deliveries are scheduled to take place throughout 2012 and 2013.
Image: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is to receive its final batch of 18 F-16 block 52 aircraft from the US.