ISLAMABAD - Successful accomplishment of Mid-Life Upgrade and Falcon Star configuration for PAF F-16s culminated with a graceful closing ceremony that took place at Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Ankara.

Air Marshal Sohail Aman, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Operations), as chief guest of the ceremony represented senior leadership of Pakistan Air Force.

Air Marshal Sohail Aman, while addressing the ceremony, read out the message by Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, in which he said, "In this era of rapid technological advancement, Pakistan Air force (PAF) is entrusted with great responsibility of providing defence of the aerial frontiers, as well as supporting the sister services. Thus, our quest for excellence continues by optimum utilisation of the sophisticated assets on our inventory, procuring the state-of-the-art equipment and up-gradation of the existing ones."

He said in this connection, the successful completion of the mid-life Upgrade and Falcon Star Configuration of the PAF F-16s in Turkey, was yet another milestone achieved. "Indeed, Turkey has always been a trusted friend of Pakistan, and has proved its worth as an ally and partner in various joint ventures in our air force-to-air force relations," he said, adding that no doubt, the Mid-life upgrade programme was a gigantic task, which was undertaken with great expertise and professional excellence.

Certainly, the cooperation of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), counts a lot in accomplishment of this worthwhile assignment. He further said with the success of this project, the PAF once again assured the entire nation with great pride that it would continue its endeavours to maintain its status as a 21st century modern air force. To protect the aerial frontiers of the beloved motherland, PAF will always remain an air force second to none, as envisaged by Father of the Nation, the message said.

The ceremony reflected classic aviation partnership among Pakistan Air Force, United States Air Force, Lockheed Martin Aero- F16s OEM and most importantly TAI that endured Pakistan-Turkey venture in which Pakistan's F16 aircraft were configured with new capabilities involving structural and avionics retrofit.

This modification brings about performance competencies which of course is the basic criterion for modern war-fighting machines of the contemporary times. After implementing these modifications, platforms stand responsive to national defence, which makes the Mid-Life Upgrade programme a huge undertaking for both countries.

Timely rollout of last batch of modified aircraft subsequently illustrates priority and sincerity that TAI as a huge industrial base has afforded to Pakistan Air Force. The timely production of aircraft in a professional manner indicates basis of trust and confidence between Pakistan and Turkey as two brotherly nations. Up-gradation of these F16 aircraft would act as a force multiplier in prompt fulfilment of PAF's strategic operational goals.