Morocco last week celebrated the receipt of its first four new F-16 Block 52 fighters during a ceremony at Ben Guerrir Air Base, north of Marrakech, attended by senior Moroccan and US military officials. “The friendship between the US and Moroccan militaries is founded on mutual respect, and I am thrilled to be here as you accept the first F-16s into your aircraft inventory,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. The Royal Moroccan Air Force is purchasing 24 F-16C/Ds under a foreign military sale agreed to in 2008. This marks the first time that Morocco’s air arm will operate F-16s. The aircraft will supplement its existing fighter fleet. The Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing has been training Moroccan F-16 pilots in Tucson. Delivery of the remaining 20 aircraft is expected by 2013. (Ben Guerrir report by SSgt. Stefanie Torres) (See also Lockheed Martin release.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.