Luke Airman recieves service-level award for security of PAF F-16 technology

  • Published
  • By Airman Brooke Moeder
  • 56 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A Luke Airman was recognized in his efforts for excelling above and beyond in his career while working alongside the Pakistani Air Force (PAF), continuously monitoring the PAF F-16 Fighting Falcon’s advanced technology.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein presented the 2018 Air Force International Affairs (IA) Excellence Award to Master Sgt. Kyle Wilson, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron phase section chief, at the Air Force Association Opening and Award Ceremony Sept. 16, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

The award recognizes one Airman annually for their exceptional and innovative contributions that had the greatest impact in IA, supporting the efforts in sustaining, increasing and guiding the U.S. Air Force partner-to-partner foreign air force relationships.

Wilson was stationed at Shahbaz air base, Pakistan, from March 2018-2019, serving as the Technical Security Team (TST) superintendent. He led four U.S. Air Force Airmen and 30 U.S. contractors and executed end-use monitoring of U.S. weapons and technology, preventing the unauthorized transfer to other countries.

He managed the security compliance oversight for Pakistan’s F-16 program, enabling Pakistani counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations to successfully prevent violent extremist organizations from sabotaging the efforts of the Pakistan state.

“Wilson’s leadership in completing the TST mission ensured the partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan remained strong to maintain the strategic purpose of their relationship,” said Maj. Americo Penaflor, 50th Missile Defense Agency, Schriever AFB, Colo., deputy of strategic planning, and Wilson’s prior TST chief in Pakistan. “The protection of technology through the processes that Wilson enforced was literally the glue that held together the U.S. and Pakistan relationship. If this mission failed and the aircraft were compromised, there would be negative impacts to the counterterrorism mission in which Pakistan supports the U.S.”

Wilson and his team also prevented the loss of technology on the F-16. They checked every component of the fighter jet and observed the avionics and guidance-type components of the aircraft.

While preventing the loss of technology, the military members provided 24/7 enhanced end-use monitoring (EUM) of the PAF F-16’s military weapons and technical data. This ensured both nations complied with the letter of agreement, which outlined those steps with which Pakistan was tasked in order to protect the aircraft’s technology.  

Wilson said the rules his team followed were in accordance with the letter of agreement and the letter of acceptance.  Both the United States Government and Pakistan developed guidelines to help ensure success of the program.

 “We combined those rules and came up with how we’re going to check the F-16s and how the inspection process was going to operate.”

Living and working with the PAF gave Wilson the opportunity to experience different cultures and helped him see how they operate as a whole.

“They integrated us like family,” said Wilson. “We would play golf and they would openly invite us to any event. They are very open, kind people. We had no hiccups and were firm, but fair with them. Once you get used to the environment and how they operate, it’s amazing. I’d love to do another diplomatic and multinational mission like the one in Pakistan.”

Wilson couldn’t have done it on his own. The four U.S. military members he was stationed with at Shahbaz helped him through everything, he said. 

“As a superintendent, I just managed and went to meetings with the PAF leadership,” said Wilson. “My troops are the ones that did a lot of the work and built the relationships. I can’t say enough about the guys that were there with me.”

It took him some time to see the impact he made while he was preventing the loss of technology on the Pakistani F-16 program, he said. Although the impact he was making wasn’t noticeable day-to-day, it doesn’t mean the impact didn’t make a large difference in the end.

“I didn’t realize the impact I was making until after being there for a year,” Wilson said. “While at the embassy we were getting briefed from leadership about the things that we were doing. That’s when I thought, ‘We actually made a difference.’”