The Saudi Royal Air Force (RSAF)’s combat aircraft with all air, technical and support crews completed on Saturday their arrival in Mushaf Airbase in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to participate in 2021 Air Excellence Center Exercise, code named ‘Aces Meet 2021-1’.
A number of Tornado combat aircraft of the RSAF takes part in the exercise along with US Air Force and Pakistan Air Force (PAF), the host country, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Earlier, a Saudi Royal Air Force (RSAF) contingent arrived in Pakistan on Saturday to participate in the two-week-long multinational air exercise.
Saudi Arabia’s Military Attaché to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Major General, Pilot P.S.C Awad bin Abdullah al-Zahrani, received the RSAF participants upon their arrival.
The participation of the RSAF in the exercise “aims to support cooperation” between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the Commander of the RSAF group participating in the exercise, Lieutenant Colonel Faih bin Abdul Rahman al-Roqi, said.
The United States Air Force (USAF) will also participate with their aircraft in the exercise along with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and RSAF while Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain air forces will attend as observers. Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 and JF-17 fighter jets will take part in the exercise.
Aces Meet 2021-1 exercise aims to maximize the combat readiness of participating units by providing them realistic, multi-domain training and to build partnerships and interoperability among allies.
“The exercise is aimed at sharing experiences and enhancing interoperability among participating air forces” with focus on role-oriented and near-realistic combat training,” a PAF statement said.
Pakistan hosted the first Aces exercise in 2017 in which PAF, RSAF and Turkish Air Force participated with aircraft. It focused on exploring and developing air power to contribute effectively to the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism campaigns.
PAF established the Airpower Centre of Excellence (ACE) in 2016 to transform air force capabilities to meet future challenges and to strengthen relations with friendly air forces through experience sharing and joint training. Pakistan has the seventh largest air force in the world with an active fleet of 1364 aircraft, according to 2021 world air forces report.
PAF enjoys close cooperation with many countries in the Middle East and frequently participated in bilateral exercises and joint training.
Pakistan has a longstanding close relationship with Saudi Arabia dating back to the 1940s and strategic military ties formalized after a 1967 defense accord. Over the decades, Saudi Arabia stood by Pakistan during its difficult times, ensuring economic assistance and oil supply. In response, Pakistan provided military expertise and support to the kingdom for decades and also helped develop the Royal Saudi Air Force and trained its first fighter jet pilots in the 1960s.
Pakistan helps Saudi Arabia with military training, defense production and joint military exercises under a bilateral security cooperation agreement. Pakistan’s former Military Chief, General Raheel Sharif, is the current Head of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition - an alliance of 41 states.