Pakistani Pilots Train with U.S. Counterparts

After a three-year hiatus, the Pakistan Air Force conducted its first bilateral training exercise with the U.S. Air Force during Falcon Talon 2022 from February 28 to March 4.

Formation flying, aerial maneuvers, parachuting and commando raids by Air Force ground forces were among the combat scenarios practiced by participating forces.

Trainers stressed the need for “agile combat employment” among U.S. and Pakistani Air Force personnel, so that they could flex their military skills beyond narrow specializations. In the name of realism, ground crews were called upon to rapidly rearm and refuel aircraft whose engines were still running.

Falcon Talon was the first bilateral training event since 2019 held between the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the U.S. Ninth Air Force/Air Forces Central (AFCENT). PAF hosted a two-week multinational aerial exercise called ACES MEET in 2021 in which the U.S. and Saudi Arabia participated with Bahraini, Jordanian and Egyptian officers attending as observers.

“Celebrating the 75th anniversary of U.S. and Pakistan relations, our militaries were happy to increase our interoperability and partner capacity during Falcon Talon,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. James Sindle, then-U.S. defense attaché to Pakistan.

“Engagements such as live flying with PAF and U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, as well as exchanges with our maintenance and security forces professionals, ensured our militaries are ready to fight to win today and postured for tomorrow.”

The exercise began in late February 2022 with the deployment of U.S. Air Force fighter jets at a Pakistani operational base. Falcon Talon stressed “realistic contemporary scenarios” applicable to potential military threats in the region, exercise organizers noted. 

Interacting with the combat crews of both air forces, Pakistani Air Marshal Muhammad Zahid Mahmood congratulated participants on the successful completion of the exercise. U.S. and Pakistani officers praised the professionalism of air and ground crews. As a sign of fraternity, Pakistani and U.S. pilots exchanged military patches at the conclusion of Falcon Talon. 

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