An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | June 27, 2011

First Moroccan F-16 pilots to complete training with Arizona Air Guard

By Air Force Maj. Gabe Johnson Arizona National Guard

TUCSON, Ariz. - Next Month, the Kingdom of Morocco, a strategic partner for U.S. forces in North Africa, will become the 25th country to own and operate F-16 Fighting Falcons. The pilots tapped to fly them are scheduled to finish training here in time to bring them home, July 30.

Four Royal Moroccan Air Force officers, former F-5 pilots, will conclude 15 months of rigorous instruction at the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing; the international F-16 training unit at Tucson International Airport.

They are the first from their country to accomplish consecutive courses in basic qualification, flight lead upgrade and instructor pilot certification in the multi-role fighter.

A handful of Air National Guard pilots will accompany them as they deliver the first four of Morocco’s 24-aircraft purchase.

The new planes, block 52 versions of the fighter, will be fresh off the assembly line and are a considerable step up in technology from the third generation fighters Morocco currently flies.

“We are modernizing our fleet and we’ve chosen the F-16, not only because it is a high-quality airplane, but also because of the close relationship we have with the United States, said Brig. Gen. Abdelali Houari, deputy inspector of the Royal Moroccan Air Force,.

“We are really happy to send our pilots here to be trained. After a year and a half in the United States our pilots are happy, of course they want to return home, but they have gained a lot of experience here with the Arizona Air National Guard.”

Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Haase, the Morocco program manager for the 162nd, worked with the RMAF for the last three years. He’s trained fighter pilots from all over the world and fully understands the scope of the students’ historic accomplishment.

“It’s all them,” he said. “It’s a big commitment to be the first F-16 pilots for Morocco. It’s a testament to their positive attitude and work ethic. They are excited about the F-16 and its capabilities yet they understand how much work there will be to build up an F-16 base.”

As students, the pilots averaged three sorties per week and accumulated more than 150 F-16 hours each. Once home, they will not only be responsible for training others, but will also be instrumental in standing up F-16 operations at Ben Guerir Air Base.

It’s a former U.S. air base located about 36 miles north of Marrakech and once served as a transatlantic abort landing site for the space shuttle. It’s currently undergoing upgrades that, according Moroccan officials, are modeled after U.S. Air Force bases.

“These are the best F-5 instructor pilots for their air force. They think they way we think,” Haase said. “They have really shown that they want to learn how [U.S. fighter pilots] operate with the F-16 so they can do it the same way – not just flying, but everything from maintenance to logistics.”

Six additional Moroccan pilots are currently in the basic F-16 course here with graduation planned for September. They too will return home to help manage Morocco’s growing F-16 fleet.

It's unclear if more student pilots from Morocco will train in Tucson; however, according to Haase, the 162nd stands ready.

“Every country is very different, that’s what’s so fascinating for instructor pilots here,” he said. “We get to know these guys on a personal level and establish trust with them. Training capable fighter pilots and fostering relationships along the way is what this is all about.”

Since 1989, the 162nd has trained with virtually every nation that flies the F-16. In addition to Morocco, the wing currently trains with pilots from Singapore, Norway, Belgium, Chile, the Republic of Korea, and the Netherlands.



Related Articles
Maj. Gen. Jonathan M. Stubbs, the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, and Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory White, senior enlisted leader of the Arkansas National Guard presented the Vanguard award to Master Sgt. Greggorey Brewer, at the Enlisted Association of Arkansas National Guard and the National Guard Association of Arkansas (AANG/NGAA) Joint State conference Saturday, Feb. 24 to acknowledge his extraordinary acts of heroism.
Heroic Airman Receives Vanguard Award for Life-Saving Actions
By Maj. Jennifer Gerhardt, | Feb. 26, 2024
FORT SMITH, Ark. – In a remarkable display of courage and quick thinking, Master Sgt. Greggorey Brewer, a readiness and emergency manager with the 188th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), has been honored with the prestigious...

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brendan Wu, 163rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron remotely piloted aircraft crew chief, assigned to the California Air National Guard at March Air Reserve Base (ARB), Calif., marshals  an MQ-9 Reaper assigned to March ARB, after landing for the first time at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 14, 2024. This cross-country mission required units from both active duty and reserve components to work jointly in order to execute new launch and recovery capabilities for the MQ-9 Reaper, showcasing the total force’s always ready posture for Agile Combat Employment missions.
MQ-9 Reaper Lands at Shaw AFB in Historic First
By Master Sgt. Dillon White, | Feb. 26, 2024
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. – Airmen from the 50th Attack Squadron and Air National Guardsmen from the 163rd Attack Wing conducted a historic first Feb. 14, by successfully landing an MQ-9 Reaper at Shaw Air Force Base under...

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christian Fischer, a tactical aircraft maintenance specialist with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing, assists an F-35A Lightning II pilot with preflight tasks February 13, 2024, during a Weapon System Evaluation Program exercise at Tyndall Air force Base, Florida. The Combat Archer exercise was a formal evaluation of the unit's ability to conduct air-to-air live fire missions. Airmen were given the opportunity to train on tasks and skills that they don't perform at their home unit such as unrestricted takeoffs and loading live ammunition onto the airframe.
Wisconsin Airmen Complete First F-35 Training Deployment
By Senior Master Sgt. Paul Gorman and Master Sgt. Mary Greenwood, | Feb. 26, 2024
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – More than 150 Airmen assigned to the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing completed the Weapons System Evaluation Program’s Combat Archer exercise Feb. 23. The exercise was the...