Pakistan Air Force (Urdu: پاک فضائیہ, Pak Faza'ya) (PAF) is the Aviation branch of the Pakistan armed forces and is responsible for defending Pakistani air-space from intrusions. It also provides air support for ground troops. Every year the 6th of September, as day after the annual celebration of the Pakistan Defense Day, the day is celebrated as the Air Force day in Pakistan. That day Air shows and other programs mark the PAF's role in defending the nation.
The primary mission statement of the PAF was given by 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. His following statement 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 her Air Force as quickly as possible, it must be an efficient Air Force, second to none...|20px|20px|
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|20px|20px|
The Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) was formed in 1947 following the Partition of 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 T-6G Harvard trainers and ten 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 partition of sub-continent. 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.
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; his tenure saw a change of PAF discipline, professionalism and quality which even today leaves its positive mark on the PAF. During his eight-year command the PAF saw modernization and re-equipment programs, as well as stricter and better training.
On September 6, 1965 war broke out between India and Pakistan. The first PAF F-104 kill of an Indian Air Force Mystère IV with one of its Sidewinders came on the afternoon of September 7, making it the first combat kill with a Mach 2-capable aircraft. India attacked Pakistan and Pakistan made her defence using F-104, F-86, B-57 and RT-33A. On September 7, 1965 the PAF claimed a heavy toll on the IAF with Sqn Ldr Muhammad Mahmood Alam in his F-86 Sabre claiming as many as eleven IAF Hunters.
In addition to brunting the Indian army's attacks in several sectors, and inflicting severe damages to some IAF bases, PAF had claimed to have destroyed 114 IAF aircraft.
"For the PAF, the 1965 war was as climatic as the Israeli victory over the Arabs in 1967. A further similarity was that Indian air power had an approximately 5:1 numerical superiority at the start of the conflict. Unlike the Middle East conflict, the Pakistani air force victory was achieved to a large degree by air-to-air combat rather than on the ground. ." USA - Aviation week & space technology
Despite its considerably smaller size and limited capabilities, the PAF launched a pre-emptive strike, Operation Chengiz Khan, against Indian airbases. The PAF's strikes were based on the same strategy of preemptive neutralization of enemy air capability followed by the Israeli Air Force on Egyptian and Arab air forces in Operation Focus during the six day war. This strike, took the IAF by surprise and managed to overwhelm the Indians on the western front. However, on the eastern front, it did not achieve its mission objectives of completely neutralizing the IAF because the PAF only had one operational squadron stationed in East Pakistan. The IAF was able to regroup and launch retaliatory strikes that same night and focused their strategy on the Eastern wing, thus avoiding a major confrontation along the western border. This allowed the IAF to achieve air supremacy towards the end of the war in the East Pakistan since the airbase in Dhaka suffered extensive damage. Although at least 32 Indian fighters were shot down in the Eastern wing.
The PAF found itself outgunned in East Pakistan. It only had one squadron of 16 old vintage F-86 Sabre aircraft facing fourteen squadrons of Indian Air Force. On the night of 3rd and 4th December, this squadron fought against 11 squadrons of IAF and was surprisingly able to repulse the attack. However, it was taken out of the war when IAF bombed the only airfield in Dhaka, twice . As a result the airspace over East Pakistan could not be effectively patrolled by the PAF, this adversely effected the ability of the Pakistan army to defend East Pakistan. The PAF claims to have destroyed 120 Indian fighters planes during the war.
Between May 1986 and January 1989, PAF F-16s shot down at least ten intruders from Afghanistan. Four of the kills were Afghan Su-22s bombers, three were Afghan transports (two An-26s and one An-24), and one was a Soviet Su-25 bomber . Most of these kills were achieved using the AIM-9 Sidewinder, but a Su-22 was destroyed by cannon fire and the one An-24 crash landed after being forced to land upon interception.
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.
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. 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.
This forced Pakistan to rely heavily on China for military aircraft. Pakistan and China worked together to develop the K-8 trainer, and continue to cooperate on the JF-17 project which aims to provide both nations with a new-generation fighter. This project is a major joint venture between Pakistan Air Force and China Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation along with Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC). The research and development cost of this project is between 450 to 500 million US dollars. It is financed up to 50%-59% by the government of Pakistan. Estimated cost per aircraft will be around 20 million US dollars. As of 2007, Pakistan had started manufacturing JF-17s in Kamra and the first delivery of two planes has taken place in March, 2007.But the mass production started in January 2008 the 8 JF-17 delivered to Pakistan and two are in transit.
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, the total of aircraft exceeds over 700. 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.
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-10 fighter aircraft PAF also received its first of five Saab 2000 AWACS aircraft from Sweden, on April 3 2008.
On March 15, Pakistan received 6 JF-17 fighters from China. The Pakistan Air Force currently has 8 JF-17 Thunder aircraft in service.
|PAF Commissioned Officer Ranks|
|Rank||Air Chief Marshal||Air Marshal||Air Vice Marshal||Air Commodore||Group Captain||Wing Commander||Squadron Leader||Flight Lieutenant||Flying Officer||Pilot Officer|
|PAF Junior Commissioned Officers and enlisted Ranks|
|Rank||Chief Warrant Officer||Warrant Officer||Assistant Warrant Officer||Senior Technician||Corporal Technician||Junior Technician||Senior Aircraftsman||Leading Aircraftsman||Aircraftsman|
Special Service Wing (SSW) is an independent commando division of the Pakistan Air Force. It is an elite special operations force similar based upon the US Air Force's 1st Special Operations Wing unit and the US Army's Ranger unit. This the newest component to the Special Forces of Pakistan. The division is still being trained and built up which will initially field between 1,000 to 2,000 men in 1 Company and is expected to be combat ready soon.
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 :
On March 31st 2006, Saba Khan, Nadia Gul, Mariam Khalil and Saira Batool were among 36 aviation cadets who received their wings after three and a half years of regular training. Saira Amin, a female cadet, has made history by being the first woman pilot to have won the Sword of Honour in any defence academy of Pakistan, at the passing out parade of the 117th GD (P) at Risalpur Of the first four female pilots, none qualified for a fighter aircraft squadron of the Air Force. They are therefore now part of the light communication squadron of Pakistan Air Force.
PAF currently has an inventory of around 523 fighter planes. However, at any given instance, around 400 fighters are operational. Some 70 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/Bs and 18 F-16C/D Block-52 and start retiring its F-7MPs and non ROSE Mirages.
|/ Chengdu JF-17 Thunder||10||0||10||Multi-Role (240 more planned)|
|Chengdu J-10 Vigorous Dragon||0||0||0||Multi-Role 36 planned till 2009|
|General Dynamics F-16A Block-15 Fighting Falcon||38||6||32||Multi-Role|
|General Dynamics F-16B Block-15 Fighting Falcon||24||2||22||Training & Multi-Role|
|General Dynamics F-16 C/D Block 52 Fighting Falcon||0||0||0||Multi-Role 18 ordered(Deliveries in 2010) + 18 options|
|Chengdu F-7PG Skybolt||48||2||46||Interceptor|
|Chengdu F-7MP Skybolt||120||30||90||Interceptor & Ground-Support|
|Chengdu FT-7P Skybolt||15||0||15||Training|
|Chengdu FT-7PG Skybolt||9||0||9||Training|
|Dassault Mirage ROSE-I (Mirage-IIIO) (Refurbished: Ex-Australian)||32||4||28||Interceptor|
|Dassault Mirage ROSE-I (Mirage-IIIDP)||5||1||4||Training & Interceptor|
|Dassault Mirage ROSE-II (Mirage-VEF) (Refurbished: Ex-French)||19||3||16||Strike & Ground-Support|
|Dassault Mirage ROSE-II (Mirage-VDF) (Refurbished: Ex-French)||6||0||6||Training & Strike & Ground-Support|
|Dassault Mirage ROSE-III (Mirage-VEF) (Refurbished: Ex-French)||14||0||14||Precision Strike|
|Dassault Mirage-IIIEP||18||6||12||Interceptor & Ground-Support|
|Dassault Mirage-IIIEL (Refurbished: Ex-Lebanese)||10+1DP||0||11||Interceptor & Ground-Support|
|Dassault Mirage-IIIDA (Refurbished: Ex-Australian)||7||0||7||Training|
|Dassault Mirage-VPA3||12||3||9||Naval Support|
|Dassault Mirage-VPA2||18||3||15||Ground Support|
|Dassault Mirage-VPA||28||2||26||Ground Support|
|Dassault Mirage-V (Refurbished: Ex-Libyan)||10||0||10||Interceptor & Ground-Support|
|Nanchang Q-5/A-5C Fantan||52||12||40||Ground-Support & Tactical Strike (Currently being phased out).|
|Shenyang J-5 Fresco||20||0||20||Fighter Conversion (Advanced Jet Training)|
|Karakoram K-8||24||0||24||Basic & Intermediate Jet Training|
|Cessna T-37||37||??||??||Basic Jet Training|
|Super Mushak MFI-395||20||0||20||Primary Training|
|Mushak MFI-17||80||0||80||Primary Training|
|Dassault Falcon 20||2||0||2||ELINT/ECM|
|Lockheed Martin C-130B/E||18||6||12||Medium-Lift Transport|
|Antonov An-26 'Curl'||1||0||1||Medium-Lift Transport|
|/ CN-235||4||0||4||V.I.P & Light-Lift Transport|
|HAMC Y-12(II)||1||0||1||Light-Lift Transport|
|Boeing 707||3||0||3||VIP Transport(expected to be retired by end of 2008-no longer used for VIP role)|
|Fokker F-27 200||2||1||1||Light Transport|
|Dassault Falcon 20||11||0||1||VIP Transport|
|AWACS aircrafts||5||0||5||Airborne Warning and Control System|
|Beechcraft Super King Air||1||0||1||Light Transport|
|Lockheed L-100||1||0||1||Tactical Transport|
|Airbus A310||1||0||1||VIP Transport|
|Saab 2000||5(order)||0||1||Airborne Early Warning|
|Baaz||??||??||??||Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)|
|Ababeel||??||??||??||Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)|
|Uqaab||??||??||Pakistan||Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)|
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 graduates engineers in aerospace and avionics specialty and is a world class institute with a high reputation for the quality of its graduates and fulfills requirements for both army & navy as well as a number of foreign countries.
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.
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. According to the Business Recorder, a leading financial newspaper in Pakistan, PAF is interested to increase its strength. The list includes:
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. This was very extraordinary and unforeseen, because US CENTCOM commandants 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. Known systems include the following: