Pakistan to take part in US air show

A F-16 fighter jet. PHOTO: REUTERS

A F-16 fighter jet. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistani aircraft will fly alongside United States, United Arab Emirates and Israel’s fighter jets in the US Air Force’s Red Flag exercise in Nevada later this month.

“For the second and fourth Red Flag, we will be including foreign players which include the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Spain,” Colonel Jeffrey Weed, a Combat Training Squadron commander in the US Air Force, had announced.

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According to the US Aviationist magazine, six Pakistani AF F16C/D Block 52+ combat jets landed at Lajes Field, Azores, along with two USAF KC-135R Stratotanker aerial refuelers from McConnell AFB on July 19. The aircraft belong to the n°5 Squadron ‘Falcons’ of the Pakistan Air Force. This is the second time PAF Vipers will take part in a Red Flag exercise, the very first time was in 2010.

Red Flag is considered the US military’s “premier air-to-air combat training exercise,” in which participating countries are divided into two teams and simulate dog fights to improve both their aviation skills and their military’s international connections, according to the US Air Force. In 2016, there will be four Red Flag exercises at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The first ran from January to February, the second from February to March and the third in July, while the final exercise will be conducted from August 15 to August 26, according to the US Air Force.

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The Israeli military has not officially commented on the presence of Pakistani and United Arab Emirates pilots at the Red Flag exercise, but mentioned that the drill was being run by the Americans and Israel sees itself as a “guest” of the country. However, earlier this year a senior IAF official stressed that in addition to their benefits for training, international military exercises can be seen as a form of “roundabout” diplomatic strategy.

This article originally appeared on Times of Israel.

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