Pakistani F-16C/D Block 52+ jets enroute to Green and Red Flag in the U.S. perform stopover at Lajes Field

Pakistani Air Force F-16s are in bound Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

On Jul. 19, 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.

The aircraft, belonging to the n° 5 Squadron “Falcons” of the PAF, were in bound to U.S. where they will take part in the Green Flag and Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

PAAF F-16 2

The aircraft are deploying to the U.S. (a trip of +7,700 miles) via Saudi Arabia, Souda Bay (Crete), Lajes (Portugal).

This is the second time the PAF Vipers take part in a Red Flag: the very first time was in 2010.

PAAF F-16 3

Image credit: APS-Associação Portugal Spotters


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Quote: “Pakistani F-16C/D Block 52+ jets ”

    Tell me what you think when your read that headline? I see Pakistani F-16s intercepting over 52 jets, an impressive but odd behavior. The rest of the headline doesn’t clear that up either.

    And yes, I know what’s meant, but the headline doesn’t make that clear. Leaving out that “Block 52+” would have avoided that ambigious “Block.”

    • For someone familiar with military aviation and the F-16, the Block makes clear sense since that’s what defines the F-16. Pakistan operates a lot of older Block 15/20 jets.

      • All F16s in the PAF have recently been upgraded in Turkey and Pakistan by TAI of Turkey which has the license by Lockheed Martin to do the work. Even the oldest F16s are now up to Block 50 standard with air frames also renewed, new engines and avionics.

    • Except that is what they are known as…Block 52+
      Anyone who knows the slightest thing about military aviation should in no way be confused by the headline…
      Either educate yourself, or move on to a different blog please. Annoying comments like yours aren’t needed anywhere. Next thing we know you’ll be confused that he is calling them Vipers too….

    • Really? Pakistani F16C/D 52+ Jets? So you’re seeing 52 or more F16’s?
      If you really want to be the obstinate then perhaps try Popular Mechanics.. They tend to dumb it down big time

    • Anyone who reads this blog should know exactly what he meant with that headline.
      The jets are Block 52+, as opposed to Block 50 or Block 52.
      Don’t be such a dunce, man

  2. Seems America will sell state of the art kit to anyone? After reading all that stuff about Pakistan allegedly knowningly sheltering Bin Laden you would think that the US would stop selling weapons to them?

    Money trumps everything?

    • Technically, Pakistan is not buying F-16s. It gets billions in military aid.

  3. I was like… wtf… lajes airbase to crete? that must be a huge distance. I doubt it would be possible. so I checked the ferry range for the F-16. 4500km. which is EXACTLY the same distance between lajes in azores to souda bay in crete!!
    so it couldn’t be possible. imagine if there was some winds or something that would make them consume a bit more. they would dive into the ocean.
    very unsafe for aviation. there’s always accounts for reserves.
    so it would be fake and impossible unless they stopped somewhere else or they were aerial refiled. which would be VERY unlikely.
    so I searched around the internet and came across this:
    so basically they are using a special 600gallon fuel tank instead of the 370 one. it increases the range in 40%-50% which makes the 4500km trip possible.
    very interesting.
    which is exactly what you see in the picture.

    • Umm no
      They’re using standard 307 gallons below wing drop tanks that the F16 is cleared to carry underwing.. Look above the wing and you’ll see a 400 gallon conformal tank on each side
      2 x drop tanks plus 2 conformal tanks is a total of 1414 gallon, or over 8400 pounds, standard F16 carries just under 6000 pounds of fuel.. Gives a total of 14400 pounds of fuel

      Also standard range of the F16 with no extra tanks is 3200 kms,
      With full tanks and conformals and drop tanks the range would 7000kms, making a 4500km trip easily manageable, especially given that they aren’t carrying any ordnance to create drag

      • that is completely wrong. from cyprus to azores they would run out of fuel and five into the atlantic ocean. check your math bro.

  4. Im sorry to ask such a stupid question but the Pakistani pilots are flying the same planes as in the US… so why not just train on the US F-16s without the massive cost and hassle of flying very thirsty aircraft to the US?

    • Since its an export aircraft, there are bound to be some significant differences electronics wise. Flying a CFT-equipped jet has significant differences when compared to non-CFT versions (no U.S. F-16 carries CFTs), so the Pakistani pilots lose out on some realistic experience if they had to fly on USAF aircraft. And long-range transit flights are also a useful skill to have.

      • No, Common Sense you are on the wrong path.
        This is not common sense.
        Common sense will rather say that they are REQUIRED to fly in and out so that they WILL consume fuel/flying hours and they WILL run all those costs. Otherwise in a savings oriented economy who is going to work? How can you transfer money?

        So the reply is: F-16s like pretty much every product are made to be used. If it is not possible to use them in the originally intended manner, than better wasting them than saving them for future proper use. Modern time kind of absurdity.

        ehy if you were using your old Motorola phone or even your original Iphone from 2007, how could Apple profit like it did?

        • Ok, well thanks for the responses, both make sense. Just seems a massive shame that so much fuel is wasted for something like that. If I really wanted to be trained how to drive my car faster by someone in Australia I would just, you know, fly there separately and get them to train me on the same model. Or get the instructor to come to me really.

          • When it comes to modern military be prepared to face the biggest non-senseness you ever faced when it comes to costs.
            Politics and money are way more important than military needs and proper use of the equipment in their minds.

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