Morocco’s First Viper Riders

Morocco’s first four F-16 pilots will soon complete 15 months of qualification training with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing at Tucson International Airport. Forming the basis of their country’s future F-16 force, the quartet is due to fly Morocco’s first F-16 Block 52s fresh from assembly in the United States to Morocco next month. “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 Moroccan Brig. Gen. Abdelali Houari. The Moroccan pilots’ training has entailed completing more than 150 flight hours, flying an average of three sorties per week through basic qualification, flight leader upgrade, and instructor pilot courses. Morocco will base its 24 F-16s at USAF’s former Ben Guerir Air Base, 36 miles north of Marrakech. (Tucson report by Maj. Gabe Johnson)