JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy transferred two P-3 Orion aircraft to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in a ceremony at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., April 30 as part of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program.
"It is indeed a pleasure for me to take part in this elegant ceremony to receive the first upgraded P-3C aircraft for the Pakistani Navy," said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan ambassador to the United States. "This represents the expanding strategic partnership between Pakistan and the United State and will fill an important gap in our country's maritime security by helping us more effectively monitor sea lanes and provide for maritime traffic in the Arabian Sea."
By 2012, the Pakistan Navy will receive a total of eight P-3C aircraft as part of the program. All eight aircraft were procured from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) and are being upgraded with modern mission systems and avionics, which will provide Pakistan the capability to conduct maritime patrol in littoral and deep-water environments.
"The induction of the P-3C aircraft into the Pakistan Navy will ensure terrorists, pirates and drug traffickers are unable to use our maritime borders for infiltration and other illegal activities," said Haqqani.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Masiello, deputy assistant secretary of state for plans, programs and operations, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, served as the senior U.S. official at the ceremony and addressed the audience, full of military, industry and civic leaders.
"Let us remember that the friendship between the United States and Pakistan is not an unbalanced one. Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally that has strongly supported the United States after the attack by Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001," said Masiello. "Now, nearly nine years later, Pakistan commands the multinational coalition of Combined Task Force 150 in its maritime security operations to interdict extremists and support Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Pakistan's stability and prosperity are in the best interest of people everywhere. Our countries' futures are intertwined - so now, more than ever, their struggles are our struggles."
The United States is fully committed to a stable, long-term strategic partnership with a democratic Pakistan-one based on shared interests and mutual respect that will continue to expand and deepen in future years. The United States and Pakistan share a common goal of a stable and secure South Asia region.
The Pakistan Navy is a critical partner nation in Coalition Maritime Forces operations and fully supports cooperative strategies in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility.
For more news from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, visit www.navy.mil/local/nasjax/.