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Saudi jets fly into Pakistan for 4th multinational air force drill

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A Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) contingent of nearly 180 pilots and air engineering technicians is participating in a two-week drill organized by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), a PAF spokesman said on Sunday.

The Aces Meet 2021 is an aerial exercise to maximize the combat readiness of participating countries through air-to-air combat training.

The US Air Force is also participating in the drill while the air forces of Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain are acting as observers.

“Their pilots and technical teams will observe the exercise. It is especially helpful for them in counterterrorism operations, which are their main target,” the PAF spokesman said.

The Saudi contingent reached Pakistan on Friday with several Panavia Tornado multirole combat aircraft and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

“The RSAF total contingent has almost 180 officials, including pilots, aircraft engineers and technicians,” the spokesman told Arab News.

He added that the PAF would be using its F-16 and JF-17 Thunder fighter jets.

“The exercise is aimed at promoting interoperability and creating an environment in which participants may learn from each other’s experiences,” he said, adding that it will include dissimilar air combat training, whereby pilots undertake air combat exercises against similar aircraft.

“The participation of the RSAF with its big contingent is a reaffirmation of the ties between the two countries and their commitment to enhancing bilateral cooperation.”

Pakistan hosted the first Aces Meet four years ago, which saw the participation of the PAF, RSAF and Turkish Air Force.

The 2017 event focused on developing airpower to contribute effectively toward counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaigns.

The PAF established the Airpower Centre of Excellence in 2016 to transform air force capabilities for future challenges and strengthen ties with friendly nations through shared experiences and training.