Pakistan will take delivery of 20 refurbished Cessna T-37 jet trainers by the end of 2008, after the USA approved a further measure to help its ally modernise its air force.

Washington will not charge for the ex-US Air Force aircraft, and Islamabad will pay only for their shipping costs. Pakistan has bought more than 60 T-37s over the past few decades, but several have crashed and many are in need of repair. The USAF retired its last T-37s earlier this year, replacing them with Beechcraft T-6 Texan II turboprops. A number of the surplus aircraft are held in desert storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona (below).

 T-37s - APG Photography
© APG Photography/AirSpace

While some of the surplus aircraft will enter Pakistani air force service, industry sources say several could be used as the source of much-needed spare parts. In June, Pakistan signed a $1.3 million deal to acquire spare parts and engines from South Korea's decommissioned T-37s.

The USA has also released $116 million in funds to help Pakistan perform mid-life upgrades to its Lockheed Martin F-16A/B fighters. Washington has promised $474 million for the work, plus $230 million that it shifted from Pakistani counter-terrorism aid programmes in July.

Last year, Washington agreed to sell Pakistan a further 18 refurbished F-16A/Bs, the first four of which were delivered to Mushaf air base in late June, plus 18 new F-16C/Ds to be handed over by 2010, plus 18 options.

Local media reports say Turkish Aerospace Industries has also been selected to fit ITT ALQ-211(V)9 advanced integrated defensive electronic warfare suite pods to Pakistan's legacy F-16s, with the move to increase commonality with Islamabad's F-16C/Ds.

Pakistan ordered 71 new F-16A/Bs in 1988-9, but in 1990, before deliveries could begin, the US Congress imposed an arms embargo because of its undeclared nuclear weapons programme. The 28 F-16s completed by Lockheed were put in storage and eventually entered US service as aggressor and test aircraft.

In addition to providing the surplus T-37s and helping to upgrade its F-16A/Bs, the USA has also allowed Pakistan to purchase eight ex-US Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

Source: Flight International