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Pak rolls out F-16 combat jets

October 13, 2009 23:50 IST

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 statement said.

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.

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