Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Pakistan Air Force (PAF) (Urdu: پاک فضائیہ, Pak Fiza'ya) is the air arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces and is primarily tasked with the aerial defence of Pakistan with a secondary role to provide air support to the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Navy. The PAF also has a tertiary role to provide strategic air transport and logistics capability to Pakistan. The PAF has 65,000 full-time personnel (including approximately 3,000 pilots) and operates approximately 700 aircraft, including 470+ combat aircraft.

Mission statement

The primary mission statement of the PAF was given by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, during his address to the passing out cadets of the Pakistan Air Force Academy Risalpur on 13 April, 1948, and has been taken as an article of faith by all coming generations of PAF personnel:

“ A country without a strong air force is at the mercy of any aggressor, Pakistan must build up its own Air Force as quickly as possible, it must be an efficient Air Force, second to none.”

But the present scenario has required and enabled the Force to come up with an improved and up-to-date Mission Statement: "To provide, in synergy with other Armed Forces, an efficient, assured and cost-effective aerial defense of Pakistan."


1947–1951: The Formative Years

The Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) was established on 14 August 1947 with the independence of Pakistan from British India. The RPAF began with 2,332 personnel, a fleet of 24 Tempest II fighter-bombers, 16 Hawker Typhoon fighters (also called Tempest I), two H.P.57 Halifax bombers, 2 Auster aircraft, twelve North American Harvard trainers and ten de Havilland Tiger Moth biplanes. It also got eight C-47 Dakota cargo planes which it used to transport supplies to soldiers fighting in the 1947 War in Kashmir against India. However, it allegedly never received all the planes it was alloted at the time of independence of South Asia.[2] It started with 7 operational airbases scattered all over the provinces. The prefix Royal was removed when Pakistan gained the status of Republic on 23 March 1956. It has since been called Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Operating these inherited aircraft was far from ideal in Pakistan's diverse terrains, deserts and mountains; frequent attrition and injuries did not make the situation any better. However, by 1948 the air force acquired better aircraft such as the Hawker Sea Fury fighter-bomber and the Bristol Freighter. These new aircraft gave a much-needed boost to the morale and combat capability of the Pakistan Air Force; 93 Hawker Fury and roughly 50-70 Bristol Freighter aircraft were inducted into the PAF by 1950

1951–1961: PAF enters the Jet Age

Although the Pakistan Air Force had little funds to use and markets to choose from, it entered the jet age quite early. Initially it had planned to acquire US-built F-94Cs, F-86s, or F-84s and produce its order in Pakistan. However, lack of funds and strong British pressure persuaded the PAF to acquire the British Supermarine Attacker. The first squadron equipped with these aircraft was the Number-11 "Arrow". The Supermarine Attacker had a rather unsatisfactory service in the Pakistan Air Force with frequent attrition and maintenance problems. In 1957 the Pakistan Air Force received 100 American-built F-86 Sabres under the U.S. aid program. Squadron after squadron in the PAF retired its Hawker Furys and Supermarine Attackers, and replaced them with F-86 jet fighters. In 1957 thirty-six year old Air Marshal Asghar Khan became the Pakistan Air Force's first commander-in-chief.

1959: IAF Crosses International Boundary

On 10 April 1959, on the occasion of the Islamic Eid festival holiday in Pakistan, an Indian Air Force (IAF) English Electric Canberra B(I)58 intruded into Pakistani airspace on a photo reconnaissance mission. Two PAF F-86F Sabres from No. 15 Squadron on Air Defence Alert (ADA) were scrambled from Peshawar Air Base to intercept the IAF intruder. The Sabre pilots were Flt. Lt. M. N. Butt (leader) and Flt. Lt. M. Yunus (wingman) whereas Pilot Officer Rab Nawaz was the on-duty Air Defence Controller for this mission. Nawaz successfully vectored both Sabres to the location of the high-flying Canberra. Butt attempted to bring down the Canberra by firing his Sabre's machine guns but the Canberra was flying at an altitude of more than 50,000 feet - beyond the operational ceiling of the F-86F. When Yunus took over from his leader, the Canberra suddenly lost height while executing a turn over Rawalpindi. Yunus grabbed this opportunity and fired a burst from his 12.7 mm guns that struck the Canberra at an altitude of 47,500 feet and brought it down over Rawat, near Rawalpindi. Thus, PAF drew 'first blood' against the IAF. '55-5005' was the serial number of the F-86F Sabre that was flown by Flt. Lt. Yunus that day. Both the occupants of the IAF Canberra, namely Sqn. Ldr. J.C. Sen Gupta (pilot) and Flt. Lt. S.N. Rampal (navigator) from the IAF's No. 106 Sqn., ejected and were taken prisoner by Pakistani authorities and were subsequently released after remaining in detention for some time

1965 India-Pakistan Rann of Kutch Border Skirmish

In June 1965, prior to the outbreak of the 1965 India-Pakistan War, India and Pakistan had a border skirmish in the Rann of Kutch region near the south-eastern coastline of Pakistan. The PAF was tasked with providing point-defence to the Rann of Kutch region to prevent the Indian Air Force (IAF) from intruding into Pakistani airspace and attacking Pakistan Army positions. On 24 June 1965, an IAF Gnat fighter (Serial No. IC 698), flown by Flt. Lt. Rana Lal Chand Sikka of No. 51 Auxiliary Squadron from the IAF's Jamnagar Air Station,who rose up to be an air marshall, intruded into Pakistani airspace. A PAF F-104A Starfighter from No. 9 Squadron which was retreating from an aborted mission saw the Gnat flying in Pakistani airspace and intercepted the IAF Gnat near Badin in Sindh, Pakistan. Just as the PAF pilot locked on to the Indian fighter and was about to release his AIM-9B Sidewinder Air-to-Air Missile (AAM), much to the surprise and amusement of the PAF pilot, the Indian pilot lowered his aircraft's landing gear (an internationally-recognized sign of aerial surrender). The IAF pilot landed at an open field near Jangshahi village near Badin. The IAF pilot was taken prisoner and released on 14 August 1965 - as a goodwill gesture on the 18th Anniversary of Pakistan's Independence Day - minus the IAF Gnat fighter, which was retained by the PAF as a trophy and flown by a PAF pilot to an airbase in Karachi. Today, the IAF Ouragaon is on display at the PAF Museum in karachi

1965 India-Pakistan War

In spite of the acquisition of a number of modern fighter jets from the United States, such as F-86 and F-104, the PAF, could not establish qualitative superiority over the Indian Air Force (IAF). Some Western observers noted that PAF pilots found the F-104 extremely difficult to handle because of which they weren't as effective as IAF's Folland Gnat.[8] The F-86F performed reasonably well over IAF's Hawker Hunters but had trouble in dealing with the Gnats, which earned the nickname Sabre Slayers.[9][10] The PAF, however, was able to inflict heavy losses on the Indians when it launched a preemptive strike and caught IAF's air bases by surprise.[11]

By the time the conflict ended, the PAF lost about 18-43 aircraft while the IAF

Muhammad Mahmood Alam downed
5 Indian aircraft
in less than a minute

1967 Arab-Israeli 'Six-Day' War

After the 1965 India-Pakistan War, some Arab countries requested Pakistan to depute some its pilots to their air forces.[citation needed]. Consequently, a small batch of PAF pilots were deputed to the air forces of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. When the Arab-Israeli 'Six-Day' War broke out in 1967, these PAF pilots on deputation were requested by their host countries to participate in defensive combat operations.[citation needed]

On 5 June 1967, PAF pilot Flt. Lt. Saiful Azam, on deputation to the joint command of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) and the Iraqi Air Force, was flying a defensive combat air patrol (CAP) over Jordan in an RJAF Hawker Hunter from Mafrak Air Base in Jordan. He was accompanied by 3 other RJAF Hunters. Their formation was informed by the ground controller of the presence of 6 Israeli Air Force IDF/AF Super Mysteres B-2s, which had crossed into Jordanian airspace. The 4 RJAF Hunters engaged the 6 IDF/AF Super Mysteres and Flt. Lt. Saiful Azam shot down an IDF/AF Super Mystere using the Hunter's 30 mm guns.[citation needed] With this kill, PAF pilots drew first blood against the IDF/AF. In this engagement, the Jordanians suffered no losses.

Two days later, in the morning of 7 June 1967, Flt. Lt. Saiful Azam. this time on deputation to the Iraqi Air Force (IrAF) was flying a defensive CAP in an IrAF Hawker Hunter (S. No. 702) over western Iraq from H3 Air Base in a formation of 4 IrAF Hunters. Ground controllers notified their formation of a formation of 8 Israeli aircraft - 4 IDF/AF Mirage IIICJs and IDF/AF 4 Vatour IIN Bombers - that had crossed into Iraqi airspace. The IrAF formation immediately engaged the Israeli aircraft and in the ensuing dogfight Flt. Lt. Saiful Azam shot down one IDF/AF Mirage IIICJ (Serial No. 6660) and one IDF/AF Vatour IIN Bomber with his Hunter's 30 mm guns. The M.IIICJ pilot was Gideon Dror, IAF, who ejected and was taken POW, while Vatour IIN bomber was the IDF/AF Vatour flight leader. In this engagement, the Iraqi Air Force suffered no loss.[citation needed]

RJAF and IrAF were flying under a joint command. Flt. Lt. S. Azam became the only pilot from the Arab side to have shot down 3 IDF/IAF aircraft within 72 hours and also the only pilot to have shot down 3 different aircraft types of the IDF/IAF. He was, subsequently, decorated by Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan

1971 India-Pakistan War

In December 1971, India and Pakistan went to war over erstwhile East Pakistan. On November 22, 10 days before the start of a full-scale hostilities, four Pakistani Air Force F-86 Sabre jets attacked Indian and Mukti Bahini positions near the Indian-Bangladeshi border in the Battle of Garibpur, and hostilities commenced. In what became the first ever dogfight over Bangladeshi skies, three of the 4 PAF Sabres were shot down by IAF Gnats. December 3 saw the formal declaration of war following massive preemptive strikes by the Pakistan Air Force against Indian Air Force installations in the west. The PAF targets were Indian bases in Srinagar, Ambala, Sirsa, Halwara and Jodhpur on the lines of Israeli Operation Focus. But the plan failed as the Indians had anticipated such a move and no major losses were suffered by the Indians.After the IAF retaliated, the PAF carried out more defensive sorties.

As the war progressed, the Indian Air Force continued to battle the PAF over conflict zones, but the number of sorties flown by the PAF gradually decreased day-by-day.The lack of coordination between Pakistan's air force and army was evident during the Battle of Longewala when the PAF was unable to come to aid the ground forces despite repeated requests by the Pakistan Army.The PAF did not intervene during the Indian Navy's raid on Karachi, a Pakistani naval port city. Some sources state that a commander decided it was the task of the Pakistan Navy alone to defend Karachi.

At the end of the war, the Indian Air Force claimed it had shot down 94 PAF aircraft, including 54 F-86 Sabres.According to some sources, the overall attrition rate (losses per 100 sorties) was 0.48 for the IAF and 1.42 for the PAF,the PAF flying 2914 combat sorties while the IAF flew 7,346 combat sortiesduring the conflict.According to a PAF officer, 61.5% of PAF's sorties were defensive while 65.5% of IAF's sorties were offensive.

A later image of types that participated
in one of the PAF's first strikes,
codenamed Operation Chengiz Khan onIndian
airfields in the North Western Sector,
during the 1971 war.

1973 Arab-Israeli 'Ramadhan/Yom Kippur' War

During the war 16 PAF pilots volunteered to go to the Middle East in order to support Egypt and Syria but by the time they arrived, Egypt had already been pushed into a ceasefire. Syria remained in a state of war against Israel.

On 23 October 1973, PAF pilot Flt. Lt. M. Hatif on deputation to Egyptian Air Force (EAF) was flying a EAF MiG-21 in a defensive combat air patrol (CAP) over Egypt when he was vectored towards an intruding Israeli Air Force (IDF/AF) F-4 Phantom. In the ensuing dogfight, Flt. Lt. M. Hatif shot down the Israeli Phantom.[25]

Eight (8) PAF pilots started flying out of Syrian Airbases; they formed the A-flight of 67 Squadron at Dumayr Airbase. The Pakistani pilots flew Syrian MiG-21 aircraft conducting CAP missions for the Syrians.

On 26 April 1974, PAF pilot Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi on deputation to No. 67 Squadron, Syrian Air Force (SAF) was flying a SAF MiG-21FL Fishbed (Serial No. 1863) out of Dumayr Air Base, Syria in a two-ship formation with a fellow PAF pilot and the Flight Leader, Sqn. Ldr. Arif Manzoor. The Ground Controller, also a PAF officer, Sqn. Ldr. Salim Metla, vectored the two PAF pilots to a formation of 2 Israeli Air Force Mirage IIICJs and 2 F-4 Phantoms that had intruded into Syrian airspace over the Golan Heights. In the engagement that took place at 1532 hours, Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi shot down an Israeli Mirage IIICJ using his MiG-21's R(K)-13 Air-to-Air Missile. The pilot of the downed Israeli Mirage was Capt. M. Lutz of No. 5 Air Wing, who ejected. The remaining Israeli fighters aborted the mission. The 2 IAF Mirage IIICJs were from Hatzor AFB and the 2 IAF F-4 Phantoms were from No. 1 Air Wing, Ramat David AFB, Israel.

Flt. Lt. A. Sattar Alvi became the first Pakistani pilot, during the Yom Kippur War, to shoot down an Israeli Mirage in air combat.He was honored by the Syrian government.[28] Other aerial encounters involved Israeli F-4 Phantoms; Pakistan Air Force did not lose a single pilot or aircraft during this war. The Pakistani pilots stayed on in Syria until 1976, training Syrian pilots in the art of air warfare

1979–1988 Soviet-Afghan War

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 in support of the pro-Soviet government in Kabul, which was being hard-pressed by Mujahadeen rebel forces, marked the start of a decade-long occupation. Mujahadeen rebels continued to harass the occupying Soviet military force as well as the forces of the Afghan regime that it was supporting. The war soon spilled over into neighbouring Pakistan, with a horde of refugees fleeing to camps across the border in an attempt to escape the conflict. In addition, many of the rebels used Pakistan as a sanctuary from which to carry out forays into Afghanistan, and a steady flow of US-supplied arms was carried into Afghanistan from staging areas in Pakistan near the border. This inevitably resulted in border violations by Soviet and Afghan aircraft attempting to interdict these operations.

Between May 1986 and November 1988, PAF F-16s have shot down at least eight intruders from Afghanistan. The first three of these (one Su-22, one probable Su-22, and one An-26) were shot down by two pilots from No. 9 Squadron. Pilots of No. 14 Squadron destroyed the remaining five intruders (two Su-22s, two MiG-23s, and one Su-25). Most of these kills were by the AIM-9 Sidewinder, but at least one (a Su-22) was destroyed by cannon fire. Flight Lieutenant Khalid Mahmood is credited with three of these kills. At least one F-16 was lost in these battles, this one in an encounter between two F-16s and six Afghan Air Force aircraft on April 29, 1987. However, the lost F-16 appears to have been an 'own goal', having been hit by a Sidewinder fired by the other F-16. The unfortunate F-16 pilot (Flight Lieutenant Shahid Sikandar Khan) ejected safely.

1983: The New Generation of Aircraft

In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The violent Soviet invasion brought hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees to Pakistan. With the war being critical to Pakistan's national sovereignty and integrity, the PAF once again sought out modernization, including the procurement of new generation fighter aircraft. France offered its new Mirage 2000, while the PAF's senior officers were interested in procuring American F-16 or F-18L fighters. Initially the Americans refused to sell the F-16 or F-18L and instead offered F-20, F-5E/F or A-10 aircraft. Eventually the new Republican administration of Ronald Reagan approved the sale of F-16s to Pakistan, and in 1981 an agreement was made to supply 34 General Dynamics F-16A and 12 F-16B "Fighting Falcon" aircraft to the Pakistan Air Force.

The F-16s were delivered under the "Peace Gate" Foreign Military Sales Program; the first six were delivered in 1983 under "Peace Gate-I" while the remaining 34 arrived by 1986, under the "Peace Gate-II" program. Between 1986 and 1988 Pakistani F-16s took part in frequent skirmishes with Soviet and Afghan aircraft.[citation needed]

Pakistani F-16s typically carry two all-aspect AIM-9Ls on the wingtip rails, along with a pair of AIM-9Ps on the outermost underwing racks. The F-16s also have an important strike role for which they are fitted with the French-built Thomson-CSF ATLIS laser designation pod and have the capability to deliver Paveway laser-guided bombs[citation needed]. The ATLIS was first fitted to Pakistani F-16s in January 1986, which became the first non-European aircraft to be qualified for the ATLIS pod.

During the late 1980s, the Pakistan Air Force's Air Defence system also underwent modernization, including the induction and integration of new land-based AN/TPS-47 radars and new Crotale Surface-to-air missiles. Attempts to acquire a new AWACS aircraft were also made - with the E-3 Sentry being desired, but the U.S. would not sell it and instead offered the E-2 Hawkeye.

In 1988 the Pakistan Air Force sought to replace its F-6s and Mirages by 1997 with the procurement of new aircraft; initially a mix of Mirage 2000 and F-16A/B Block-15OCU were to be acquired alongside 90 or so F-7 (Chinese MiG-21). However in 1988 the death of Zia-ul-Haq and Soviet disengagement from Afghanistan reduced Pakistan's value as an US ally and sanctions were put in place by US authorities quoting a suspected nuclear program. Since 2002 the F-6 has been phased out of Pakistan Air Force and the last flight and farewell ceremony to the F-6 aircraft was held at Pakistan Air Force Base Samungli (Quetta Baluchistan), Wing Commander Arif had the honour of flying the last sortie of the F-6 aircraft in the presence of PAF Chief and Chinese Air Force high officials.
Pakistan has ordered a total of 111 F-16A/B aircraft. Of these, 71 were embargoed by the US due to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Of these 71, 28 were actually built but were flown directly to the AMARC at Davis-Monthan AFB for storage.

Over the years, various plans were conceived for these 28 aircraft: Pakistan wanted to get the aircraft or their money back; they were offered to various nations, none of which were interested; ultimately, the US Navy and USAF entered them into service as aggressor aircraft.

After Pakistan's help in the war on terror, the US lifted the embargo. In 2005, Pakistan requested 24 new Block 50/52 F-16C/Ds (with option for as much as 55 aircraft). At this moment, it is still debated in the US wether these aircraft will be delivered.

1990–2001: The Lost Decade

From 1990 Pakistan was hit by U.S. military embargoes (see Pressler amendment) in response to Pakistan's nuclear weapons development; these embargoes prevented the Pakistan Air Force from receiving the 71 F-16s ordered from the U.S., including the 28 that had been built. The U.S. military put these into storage at AMARC.

Now desperate for a new high-tech combat aircraft, between late 1990 and 1993 the PAF evaluated the European Panavia Tornado MRCA (multi-role combat aircraft) and rejected it. The Mirage 2000E and an offer from Poland for the supply of MiG-29 and Su-27 were also considered but nothing materialised. In 1992 the PAF again looked at the Mirage 2000, reviving a proposal from the early 1980s to procure around 20-40 aircraft, but again a sale did not occur because France did not want to sell a fully-capable version due to political reasons. In August 1994 the PAF was offered the Saab JAS-39 Gripen by Sweden, but again the sale did not occur because 20% of the Gripen's components were from the U.S. and Pakistan was still under U.S. sanctions.

After the 1998 nuclear tests and 1999 military coup, Pakistan was hit by further sanctions not only from the U.S. but other Western nations as well; it would not be until 2002 when the U.S. finally lifted most of the sanctions.

This situation forced Pakistan to rely heavily on China for combat aircraft, which although inexpensive, were not as capable as the latest Western aircraft Pakistan desired. To remedy the problem, Pakistan and China initiated projects to jointly develop new aircraft. The K-8 Karakorum intermediate jet trainer project was started in the late 1980s to replace the PAF's fleet of T-37 and FT-5 trainer aircraft. The JF-17 (known as FC-1 in China) light-weight multi-role combat aircraft project was started in the mid 1990s to replace PAF's fleets Mirage III/V and F-7P/PG strike and interceptor fighters.

Till date, around 400 examples of the K-8 Karakorum have been produced and it is currently serving in the air forces of Egypt and some African nations, as well as China and Pakistan. The JF-17, currently being inducted into the Pakistan Air Force, is also planned to be exported to other less wealthy countries, although it is currently unclear whether it will be inducted in large numbers by China. The JF-17 project is a major joint venture between Pakistan Air Force and China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation along with Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC).[31] The research and development costs of this project, partially financed by the government of Pakistan, is around 500 million US dollars. Estimated cost per aircraft will be around 10-20 million US dollars, depending on specifications. The first delivery of two JF-17 small batch production (SBP) aircraft took place in March 2007 for flight testing, avionics evaluation and weapons integration. Later, 6 more SBP aircraft were delivered and further deliveries are expected for operational induction of the first JF-17 squadron in mid 2009. Since January 2008, Pakistan has begun manufacturing parts and sub-assemblies for the JF-17 at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and this is to be expanded to production of 60% of the airframe.

As stop-gap solutions until new fighters arrived, the ROSE (Retrofit Of Strike Element) upgrade programme was initiated in the mid 1990s to modernise a number of Mirage III/V strike/interceptor fighters and carried on until the early 2000s. The last Shenyang F-6 were retired and replaced by around 50 new F-7PG fighters from China in 2002; the PAF were impressed by the capabilities of the F-7PG and placed an order for a further 11 aircraft. The F-7PG were fitted with Italy's FIAR (now SELEX Galileo) Grifo 7PG radar, while the F-7P fleet was upgraded with the Grifo 7 mk.II - an upgraded version of the Grifo 7.

1999 India-Pakistan Kargil Conflict

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) did not see active combat during the low-intensity Kargil Conflict between India and Pakistan during the summer of 1999 but remained on high air defence alert (ADA) and performed F-16 and F-7MP combat air patrols (CAPs) near the eastern border with India. The PAF closely monitored and tracked the IAF's movements near the Line of Control in Kashmir as well as the India-Pakistan international border. Occasionally, PAF F-16s and IAF Mirage 2000s locked on to each other across the Line of Control but did not engage.[32]

The IAF was involved in strike operations on the Line of Control and, on 37 occasions, intruded into Pakistani airspace at very low altitude, for only a few seconds and up to a few miles, thus, not giving the PAF an opportunity to shoot down any of their aircraft. Most of these intrusions were considered to be 'technical violations' relating to the layout of the Line of Control and not considered to be deliberate.

However, the Pakistan Army Air Defence, which was better positioned to tackle the low-flying IAF fighters on the Line of Control, shot down two Indian Air Force fighter-jets - a MiG-21 and MiG-27ML - on 27 May 1999 and a Mi-17 helicopter on 28 May 1999 near the Line of Control in Kashmir, the details of which are below:

On 27 May 1999, Gunner Sepoy Shafaqat Ali commanded by Capt. Faheem Tipu, Pakistan Army Air Defence shot down an IAF MiG-27ML using an ANZA-II SAM. The IAF fighter (Serial No. 1135), was flown by Flt. Lt. K. Nachiketa of No. 9 Squadron, IAF pilot who ejected and was taken prisoner. The IAF fighter was shot down after intruding into Pakistan airspace at 11:15 a.m. (PST) near Marol-Hamzi Ghund, Pakistan. Aircraft intruded into Pakistan airspace twice - it first marked a Pakistani position on the LoC with smoke bombs and then came in for a rocketing and strafing attack on the same post. It was shot down during the second attack as it exited. Wreckage fell on the Indian side of the LoC. IAF Pilot captured and made POW. Released on 4 June 1999.

Also on 27 May 1999, Naik Talib Hussain Basharat commanded by Capt. Faheem Tipu of the Pakistan Army Air Defence shot down an IAF MiG-21 using an ANZA-II SAM. The IAF fighter (Serial No. C1539) was flown by Sqn. Ldr. Ajay Ahuja of No. 17 Squadron, IAF, who was killed. The IAF fighter was shot down after intruding into Pakistan airspace at 11:35 a.m. (PST) near Marol-Hamzi Ghund, Pakistan. Aircraft was one of two IAF MiG-21s which targeted and then came in for a rocketing attack on a Pakistani post on the LoC. It was shot down while engaged in the attack at a height of 1,500 metres from ground level. Wreckage fell 10-12 kilometres inside Pakistan. Body of IAF pilot handed over to India on 29 May 1999.

On 28 May 1999, Lance Havaldar Muhammad Kamal of the Pakistan Army Air Defence shot down an IAF Mil Mi-17 Helicopter using a Stinger SAM. The crew of the IAF helicopter comprising of Flt. Lt. S. Mulihan, (Pilot); Sqn. Ldr. Rajiv Pundir (Co-pilot); Sgt. P.V.N.R. Prasad (Flt. Gunner); Sgt. Raj Kishore Sahu (Flt. Engineer) of No. 152 Helicopter Unit, IAF were all killed. The IAF helicopter was shot down after intruding into Pakistan airspace and rocketing Pakistani positions on the LoC in the Mushkoh-Drass sector. The gunship was shot down as it exited after carrying out the rocketing attack. Wreckage fell inside Indian-held Kashmir.

2001–Present: Counter Terrorism Operations

In light of Pakistan's significant contribution to the War on Terror[33][34], the United States and Western European countries, namely Germany and France, lifted their defense related sanctions on Pakistan; enabling the country to once again seek advanced Western military hardware. Since the lifting of sanctions, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) became heavily active in evaluating potential military hardware; such as new fighter planes, radars, land based air-defense systems, etc. The key factor had been the lifting of American sanctions on Pakistan; including restrictions on military combat aircraft - namely the Lockheed Martin F-16. However the urgent relief needed in Kashmir after the October 8 Earthquake forced the Pakistan Military to stall its modernization programme; so it could divert its resources for fuel and operations during the rescue effort.

The Bush administration on July 24, 2008 informed the US Congress it plans to shift nearly $230 million of $300 million in aid from counterterrorism programs to upgrading Pakistan's aging F-16s.[35] The Bush administration previously announced on June 27, 2008 it was proposing to sell Pakistan ITT Corporation's electronic warfare gear valued at up to $75 million to enhance Islamabad's existing F-16s.[36] Pakistan has asked about buying as many as 21 AN/ALQ-211(V)9 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite pods, or AIDEWS, and related equipment.[37] The proposed sale will ensure that the existing fleet is "compatible" with new F-16 Block 50/52 fighters being purchased by Islamabad. Electronic warfare targets such things as radars, communications links, computer networks and advanced sensors.

The modernization stall would end in April 2006 when the Pakistani cabinet approved the Pakistan Air Force's proposal to procure 350 new fighters from the U.S. and China. The Pakistan Government has launched the Armed Forces Development Programme - 2019 (AFFDP-2019); this programme will oversee the modernization of the Pakistan Air Force from now to 2019. Some of the latest advanced combat aircraft are being sought from the US and China.[38]

PAF will be looking for additional F-16 MLU from third parties. In July 2007 Commander of Central Air Command of US Air Force Lt Gen Gary L. North, and another US Aviator flew a pair of F-16s to Pakistan for them to be handed to the Pakistan Air Force[39]. This was very extraordinary and unforeseen, because US CENTCOM commanders don't distribute jet aircraft to other partner nations. The Pakistan Air Force will consist of a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions.

On December 13, 2008, the Government of Pakistan alleges that two Indian Air Force aircraft were intercepted by the PAF kilometres within Pakistani airspace. This charge was denied by the Indian government

Awards for valor

The Nishan-e-Haider (Urdu: نشان حیدر) (Order of Ali),
is the highest military award given by Pakistan.
Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas (1951–August 20, 1971)
is the only officer of the PAF to be awarded the Nishan-e-Haider for sacrificing his life to save a plane hijacking. Other heroes of the PAF include:

Squadron Leader Muhammad Mahmood Alam also known as M. M.
Alam who shot down five IAF jets in less than 5 seconds. Squadron Leader Sarfraz Rafiqui who did not leave the battle, and even with his jammed guns continued to chase an Indian Air Force pilot until finally being shot down by a Hunter aircraft, flown by the IAF.



Air Headquarters

Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman — Chief of Air Staff (CAS)
Air Marshal Hifazat Ullah Khan — Vice Chief of Air Staff (VCAS)
Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Personnel)
Air Marshal Wasimuddin — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Administration)
Air Marshal Mohammad Hassan — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations)
Air Vice Marshal Syed Athar Hussain Bukhari — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Training)
Air Vice Marshal Asim Suleman — DG Air Intelligence
Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Jamshaid Khan — DG C4I
Air Vice Marshal Syed Azhar Hasan Bokhari — DG Air Force Strategic Command
Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Arif — Chief Project Director JF-17 Thunder
Air Vice Marshal Qasim Masood Khan — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Engineering)
Air Vice Marshal Syed Razi Nawab — Inspector General Air Force
Air Vice Marshal Syed Hassan Raza — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Support)


Air Vice Marshal Tubrez Asif — Commandant PAF Air War College
Air Vice Marshal Aftab Hussain — Air Officer Commanding, Air Defence Command (ADC)
Air Vice Marshal Sohail Gul Khan — Air Officer Commanding, Northern Air Command (NAC)
Air Vice Marshal Hafeez Ullah — Air Officer Commanding, Pakistan Air Force Academy
Air Vice Marshal Arshad Quddus — Air Officer Commanding, Southern Air Command (SAC)
Air Vice Marshal Sohail Aman — Air Officer Commanding, Central Air Command (CAC)

External billets

Air Marshal Farhat Hussain Khan — Chairman, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra
Air Vice Marshal Riaz-ul-Haq — Deputy DG, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
Air Vice Marshal Kamal Alam Siddiqui — Director, Precision Engineering Complex (PEC), Karachi
Air Vice Marshal Sajid Habib — DG Joint Operations, GHQ
Air Vice Marshal Najam ul Asar — Additional Secretary-II (PAF) at Ministry of Defence
Air Vice Marshal Tariq Matin — Managing Director, Technology Commercialization Corp (STEDEC) under Ministry of Science and Technology
Air Vice Marshal Zubair Iqbal Malik — DG Air Weapons Complex (AWC), Wah Cantt
Air Vice Marshal Asif Raza — DG National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Rawalpindi
Air Vice Marshal Aminullah Khan — Managing Director, Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF) at PAC Kamra
— DG Logistics, Joint Staff Headquarters

List of Chiefs

Main article: Chief of Air Staff (Pakistan)
1.Air Vice Marshal Allan Perry-Keene (August 15, 1947 – February 17, 1949)
2.Air Vice Marshal Richard Atcherley (February 18, 1949 – May 6, 1951)
3.Air Vice Marshal Leslie William Cannon (May 7, 1951 – June 19, 1955)
4.Air Vice Marshal Arthur McDonald (June 20, 1955 – July 22, 1957)
5.Air Marshal Asghar Khan (July 23, 1957 – July 22, 1965)
6.Air Marshal Nur Khan (July 23, 1965 – August 31, 1969)
7.Air Marshal Abdul Rahim Khan (September 1, 1969 – March 2, 1972)
8.Air Marshal Zafar Chaudhry (March 3, 1972 – April 15, 1974)
9.Air Chief Marshal Zulfiqar Ali Khan (April 16, 1974 – July 22, 1978)
10.Air Chief Marshal Anwar Shamim (July 23, 1978 – March 5, 1985)
11.Air Chief Marshal Jamal A. Khan (March 6, 1985 – March 8, 1988)
12.Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah (March 9, 1988 – March 9, 1991)
13.Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze Khan (March 9, 1991 – November 8, 1994)
14.Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak (November 8, 1994 – November 7, 1997)
15.Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi (November 7, 1997 – November 20, 2000)
16.Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir (November 20, 2000 – February 20, 2003)
17.Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat (March 18, 2003 – March 18, 2006)
18.Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed (March 18, 2006 – March 18, 2009)
19.Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman (March 19, 2009 – present)

Special Forces

Special Service Wing (SSW) is an independent commando division of the Pakistan Air Force. It is an elite special operations force based upon the US Air Force's 1st Special Operations Wing unit and the US Army's Ranger units. This the newest component to the Special Forces of Pakistan. The division has recently been created and is fielding between 700 to 1,000 men in one company.


These are the bases from which the PAF planes operate during peace time. They have complete infrastructure of hardened shelters, control towers, workshops, ordnance depots etc. These are ten in number and are:

PAF Mushaf (Sargodha)
PAF Masroor (Karachi)
PAF Faisal (Karachi)
PAF Rafiqui (Shorkot)
PAF Peshawar (Peshawar)
PAF Samungli (Quetta)
PAF Mianwali (Mianwali)
PAF Minhas (Kamra)
PAF Chaklala (Rawalpindi)
PAF Risalpur (Risalpur)
Multan Airport (Multan)

Current Aircraft Inventory

The PAF today operates F-16s, F-7PGs, F-7MPs, Mirage-IIIs, JF-17 Thunders, A-5Cs and Mirage-Vs, around 500 to 530 fighters organized in 27 front-line squadrons[46], the total of aircraft exceeds over 700[47]. The PAF is upgrading fighter aircraft such as the Mirage ROSE-I that can utilize BVR, and Mirage ROSE-III that can carry out surgical strike missions using long-range glide bombs. Pakistan has also started manufacturing 150 (can go up to 250-300 fighters) JF-17 Thunder fighters at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra. The first batch of two aircraft were commissioned in PAF on 23 March 2007.

PAF currently has an inventory of around 850 fighter planes. However, at any given instance, around 550 fighters are operational.Some 200 of the Mirages have been given ROSE upgrades - allowing them to engage in BVR combat; and also allowing them to either perform high-altitude air-superiority missions or specialized surface strike missions. The F-7PGs and F-16s are the PAF's main multi-role fighter aircraft - while the F-7MP is a limited interceptor/ground-strike aircraft. It is likely however that the PAF will procure another 14 F-16A/B MLU-3 and 18 F-16C/D Block-52+ and start retiring its F-7MPs and non ROSE Mirages.

On April 12, 2006, the Government of Pakistan authorized the purchase of up to 77 F-16 fighter planes from the US. But this number was reduced to 40 when US declined to reduce the unit price of the aircraft. The Government of Pakistan had also authorized the purchase of 36 Chinese J-10B fighter aircraft PAF also received its first of five Saab 2000 AWACS aircraft from Sweden, on April 3, 2008.

On March 15, 2008, Pakistan received 6 JF-17 fighters from China. The Pakistan Air Force currently has 8 JF-17 Thunder aircraft in service.

Some 70 of the Dassault Mirage III and Mirage V aircraft have been modernised under the ROSE upgrade programme, allowing them to perform either high-altitude air-superiority missions or specialized surface strike missions, depending on the variant. The Chengdu F-7P/PG serve as interceptor aircraft that can also perform limited ground strike duties. The F-16 is the PAF's most capable multi-role combat aircraft. The PAF is currently in the process of modernising its entire fleet of aircraft. Procurement of a further 26 used F-16 and 18 new F-16 combat aircraft from the USA, as well as upgraded systems for the PAF's current fleet of F-16, are to be delivered ~2010. There are 150-250 JF-17 and 36 FC-20 combat aircraft from China being ordered and delivered. airborne early warning and control (AEWC) aircraft from Sweden, America and China have been ordered, as well as Il-78 aerial refuelling tanker aircraft from Ukraine. The JF-17 will begin replacing the PAF's fleet of Mirage III, Mirage V, F-7P/PG and A-5 combat aircraft from 2009, the phasing out and retirement of old aircraft will begin ~2010.

Ground SAM vehicles

FT-2000/HQ-9, In October 2003, it was reported that China had closed a deal with Pakistan to supply an unspecified number of FT-2000 missiles to counter India’s early warning. capabilities.[55] Pakistan is actively looking to purchase Chinese HQ-9/FD2000 high-altitude missile air defense system.[56] Chinese HQ-9/FD2000 can hit aircraft out to 125 kilometers, air-launched cruise missiles out to 50 kilometers, and ballistic missiles out to 25 kilometers.Pakistan has already purchased JY-11, JYL-1, (earlier version of the self propelled YLC-2V) YLC-2 and JL3D-90A radars. These radars serve as Acquisition Radars for HQ-12/KS-1A (Which lost to spada-2000) and HQ-9 / FD-2000 high-altitude missile air defense system.[57] Pakistan is purchasing three Regiments/9 batteries of the CPMIEC-built HQ-9 long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM) system.[58]
Crotale 2000/3000/4000, approx 25 systems
MBDA Spada 2000, European missile house MBDA has officially confirmed the sale of its Spada 2000 air defense system to the Pakistan Air Force.Speaking on April 16, Chief Executive Antoine Bouvier said the deal for 10 batteries was worth 415 million euros ($656.56 million) over five years, adding that the contract was signed last August and put into force in February.[59] Pakistan has ordered 750 Aspide-2000 SAM in 2007 for 20 Spada-2000 SAM system.[52]
FIM-92 Stinger
RBS-70 Rayrider, 250 Launchers, 900 Missiles
HQ-2B(SA-2), approx 32 launchers 600msl
PL-9, combined with twin 35/37 mm guns
GDF-002 35 mm radar Controlled Systems, approx 400

Engineering & maintenance capability

Since independence the PAF has developed and nurtured an extensive in house engineering, maintenance and repair capability. Indigenization of in house maintenance has enabled it to maintain force levels and high serviceability and reliability rates. The premier maintenance organizations supporting the mission of the Pakistan Air Force are Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (which includes F6 Rebuild Factory, Mirage Rebuild Factory, Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, Kamra Avionics Rebuild Factory), No 102 Air Engineering Depot (Aero-Engines Overhaul), No 107 Air Engineering Depot (Avionics), No 108 Air Engineering Depot (Ground Radars), No 109 Air Engineering Depot (Missiles), No 130 Air Engineering Depot (Transport Aircraft Overhaul). R&D work is done at Central Technical Development Unit, Special Task Group & No 118 Software Engineering Depot. The PAF managed / supported Air Weapon Complex (AWC) produces a number of high technology armament and munitions for the air force.

The College of Aeronautical Engineering (CAE) situated at PAF Academy Risalpur is a world class Aeronautical Engineering College which graduates engineers in aerospace and avionics and is one of the best technical institutes in Pakistan and fulfills requirements for both Army & Navy satisfactorily.

Apart from this Pre Trade Training School, School Of Aeronautics, School Of Electronics, Administrative Trades Training School and School Of Logistics fulfills different manpower requirements of Pakistan Air Force.

PAF is also supporting a university (AIR UNIVERSITY and IAA) at PAF complex Islamabad which provide civil students and military cadet with world class engineering facilities.

The Future

More weaponry procurements

AIM-120C7 AMRAAM beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (1000 ordered).
AIM-9X Sidewinder within-visual-range air-to-air missile (1000 ordered).
AIM-9M-1/2 Sidewinder within-visual-range air-to-air missile (upgraded to AIM-9M-8/9, 300 ordered).
SD-10 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.
PL-9C within-visual-range air-to-air missile.
Denel A-Darter within-visual-range air-to-air missile.
Harpoon Block II anti-ship missile.
Mectron MAR-1 anti-radiation missile (100 received).
Lockheed Martin Sniper XR targeting pod (18 ordered).
Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)


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