Maintenance Programs of Pakistani Falcons

Posted on April 5, 2012 by Najam Khan - Blog Link

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) inducted F-16 Fighting Falcon in January 1983. This provided a quantum leap to the PAF. It was PAF’s first experience of handling such a modern day fighter aircraft. From 1986 to 1988 F-16s participated in air defence missions carried out in Afghan War (1979-1988). F-16s played a vital role in guarding the western borders of Pakistan from Soviet/Afghan intruding aircraft. During the war PAF flew a total of 10,939 sorties and logged 13,275 hours.

This extreme usage of F-16s in the start of its career raised serious questions about its service life in coming decades. PAF went for development of in-house facilities for maintenance and overhaul of F-16 components. A F-16 Upgrade Cell was established at Sargodha Air Base. This cell was capable of performing depot level structural and avionics related modifications in the F-16s. These modifications include Operational Capability Upgrade (OCU), 479 Bulk Head Replacement Module and Wing box modifications.

In 1989, Mirage Rebuild Factory (MRF) at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra was assigned the task of overhauling the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 turbofan engine that powers the F-16 fleet in PAF service. The F-16’s structural modifications were made in engine, fuselage, ailerons and flaps. These structural modifications were a part of its type extension program. Reinforcement plates were also added on the fuselage to strengthen the structural integrity of the F-16s, thus extending its service life.
MRF has also upgraded the F100 engine from 200 to 220E configuration. The -220Econfiguration provides better performance and greater reliability. Up to 26 modifications were made in F-100 engines modules including fan, engine core, fuel nozzles, gearbox, high pressure turbine…etc

Improvement in the service life of various F-100 modules is as follows:

Fan Module 1800-4000 Hours
Core Module 4000 Hours
 Turbine 3500 Hours
Augmentor Module 4000 Hours
Gearbox Module 4000 Hours

The repair, up-gradation and overhaul of F-100 Engine, replacement of wing and fuselage fuel cells are also carried out by MRF. MRF has been certified for aircraft painting and de-painting as well.The F-16’s avionics, structuraland engine related modifications allowed the PAF to maintain a high level of readiness despite U.S. sanctions and arms embargo from the West and did not hamper the operational preparedness of the fighting force during both times of peace and war.

Over the years,F-16s have participated in various multinational exercises around the globe. The devoted ground crew has always ensured the combat ready status of these falcons. F-16s participation in counter insurgency operations in Global War on Terror are the recent example of their combat record.


In June 2009, PAF, Lockheed Martin and United States Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) signed a contract of Mid Life Update (MLU) of these F-16s. Under this program, TAI will upgrade 41 F-16 A/B Block-15E aircraft at the TAI facility in Ankara, Turkey. It will also provide training to PAF technicians and engineers on MLU F-16s. After getting the MLU, these aircraft will be a mainstay aircraft in PAF for at least two decades. PAF will use these modified F-16s as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen the defence of Pakistan.

A F-16B with structural reinforcement plate visible on its fuselage. Inset is close up of a structural reinforcement plate.

A F-16 fuselage without structural reinforcement plates.


F100-PW-220/-220E Cutaway View (Newest Configuration) [P&W graphic]


F-100 engine undergoing testing.


Engineers working on F-100 power plant at MRF facility. The F-100 modules repair/overhaul consists of Inlet Fan Module (IF),

Fan Drive Turbine (FDT) Module, Core Module, Gearbox Module, and High Pressure Turbine Module (HPT).


F-16A undergoing painting at aircraft painting facility, MRF.


An example of neat paint job done.




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