HomeNewsArticle Display

Arizona Air Guard to train Moroccan F-16 pilots

The “F-16 on a stick,” a base landmark at the 162nd Fighter Wing at Tucson International Airport, now bears a mile marker for Marrakech, Morocco, the latest partner nation to train with the Arizona Air National Guard. The first four students begin F-16 training in March. (Air Force photo)

The “F-16 on a stick,” a base landmark at the 162nd Fighter Wing at Tucson International Airport, now bears a mile marker for Marrakech, Morocco, the latest partner nation to train with the Arizona Air National Guard. The first four students begin F-16 training in March. (Air Force photo)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A new destination was recently added to the mile marker post outside the Operations Group here. It reads: Marrakech 5,754 miles. The sign is indicative of the newest partner nation to be trained by the 162nd Fighter Wing here--the Kingdom of Morocco.

Maj. Steve "Scratch" Haase, 162nd operation's center chief, described an allied relationship with Morocco as an opportunity to "build interoperability and the capacity to support military, civilian and peacekeeping operations in northern Africa."

Set to begin instructor pilot training in March, Morocco's four initial students are currently receiving specialized English training now. The list of students includes Ben Guerir Air Base's operation's group commander and three other high-ranking pilots. Located approximately 36 miles north of Marrakech, the base was once operated by the Strategic Air Command of the U.S. Air Force.

The four Moroccan students will train for a year and a half in the F-16, Block 42 aircraft here as part of their conversion from the F-5 to the F-16. Six additional student pilots are expected to arrive for upgrade training, as well as a limited number of maintenance personnel in specialties ranging from air frame to crew chiefs, according to Major Haase.

Morocco is expected to receive the first of their 24 F-16s beginning in July, 2011, at which time they may require additional mobile training teams to instruct them on the use of equipment such as night vision goggles and joint helmet mounted cueing systems, said Major Haase.