PAF COMMAND CHANGES
2009 saw the change in command of the PAF. ACM Tanvir Mahmood was replaced by ACM Rao Qamar Suleiman. He was appointed by the civilian government. In the process of ascension, the air chief superseded three senior air marshals: Shahid Lateef, the vice chief of air staff; Khalid Chaudhry, chairman Pakistan Aeronautical Complex; and Hifazat Ullah Khan, deputy chief of air staff (personnel).
FRONTLINE AIRCRAFT OF THE PAF
LOCKHEED MARTIN F-16C/D BLOCK-52: Spearheading any major offensive or defensive mission would be the brand new fleet of PAF F-16C/D Block-52 fighter aircraft, which form the nucleus of the top of the line aircraft in PAF inventory.
|PAF F-16D Block-52 Viper during pre delivery testing|
The first Block-52 F-16D aircraft of the Pakistan Air force rolled out in 2009 at a ceremony in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman attended the ceremony as the chief guest. These state-of-the-art F-16s bolstered PAFs fleet of high tech combat aircraft and enabled it to undertake wide variety of missions across the entire spectrum of operations. After the completion of testing and integration of the new system, the first batch of F-16 C/D aircraft are scheduled to arrive in Pakistan in June 2010, and the delivery of all 18 F-16s is planned to complete by December 2010. This is to be followed by a follow up order of 14 new F-16C/D Block-52 jets to be delivered to the PAF in 2011.
GENERAL DYNAMICS / LOCKHEED MARTIN F-16A/B MLU-III: Since 1983 till to date, the F-16 Block-15 multirole fighter has been the trademark of the PAF and have lead the Airforce in various conflicts and military standoff. At present PAF operates 43 F-16A/B Block-15 aircraft. The F-16A/B fleet is to be upgraded with MLU (Mid-Life Update) modification kits and Falcon Star Structural Service Life Enhancement kits by Turkish Aerospace Industries starting in September 2010 at a rate of 1 per month. Four F-16A/B are already undergoing upgrade in the U.S. for delivery in 2011. The PAF F-16s will receive a mid-life upgrade that primarily involves replacement of avionics and structural modifications bringing them close to Block 50 standards. Under the deal, two or three PAF F-16s are expected to be upgraded at the TAI facilities, while the remaining F-16s will be upgraded in Pakistan, either at the Sargodha F-16 base in Punjab or in Kamra, around 50 kilometers outside of Islamabad, at the PAC-Kamra aircraft factory.
|PAF F-16B Block-15OCU aircraft|
The PAF MLU avionics upgrade kits are being designed to provide the PAF Block 15A/B aircraft with many of the same capabilities as the new Block 52 F-16s that the PAF is procuring. The MLU kit replaces most of the 1980s avionics in the Block 15s with newer, advanced avionics systems from the Block 52 F-16s. The MLU upgrade kits will include: APG-68(V)9 radar; Embedded GPS/INS (EGI); Link-16 data link; APX-113 Advanced Identify Friend or Foe (AIFF); Color Cockpit with Color Moving Map; ALQ-211(V)9 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) Pod; Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) Cockpit and External Lighting; Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod; Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS); Reconnaissance Pod capability; improved avionics systems; JDAM capability; EGBU capability; AIM-120 AMRAAM capability; and AGM-84 Harpoon capability. While many of the avionics systems and capabilities are common with the new Block 52s and the MLU, some significant differences remain between the MLU F-16 Block 15s and the new PAF Block 52s: there are no improvements to the Block 15s mission range and loiter time; there are no engine improvements; and, there are no improvements to payload capacity. Overall, the MLU program will extend the service life of PAF’s original F-16 aircraft and very significantly increase the capability of the PAF to conduct Close Air Support and night precision attack missions.Thus armed with state of the art weapons’ and avionics suite, the F-16 MLU-III could fight any aircraft of the Indian Airforce maintaining the same level of threat which the Indians faced during the 80s and 90s.
|All PAF F-16 pilots would be equipped with JHMCS|
JF-17 THUNDER: The first domestically produced JF-17 Thunder also rolled out in PAC Kamra in November 2009. Thus a dream became a reality, with Pakistan achieving the capability to produce high performance fighter jets. The JF-17 Thunder a new generation, light-weight, all weather, day/night multi-role fighter aircraft with glass cockpit, hands-on-throttle-and-stick controls and efficient man-machine interface would ensure a minimal pilot workload.
|Made in Pakistan: JF-17 Thunder|
The maximum speed of Mach 1.8 and a high thrust-to-weight ratio would enable it to perform well in an air defence role. An ability to carry short - as well as long-range air-to-air missiles, lends the aircraft a first shot capability of conventional as well as non-conventional arsenal. In the surface attack role, a variety of weapons - conventional as well as precision-guided, a sophisticated avionics suite along with accurate weapon delivery system, ensure higher mission success rate.
|JF-17 Thunder replaces A-5 as the new 'Black Spiders; of No.26 Squadron|
An effective ECM suite would greatly enhance survivability of the platform. Its anticipated air-to-air refuelling capability will provide the JF-17 with more loiter time to safeguard the frontiers and the ability to deliver the required punch at distance. It will replace the ageing fleets of A-5s, F-7Ps and the Mirages in the PAF inventory thus fulfilling a multi-role task. In addition to that the PAC would also be able to export its surplus production in the days to come as the aircraft has received acclaims from the user like PAF.
The official induction of the JF-17 Thunder in the PAF fleet took place in 2010. The induction took place in a formal ceremony in which the first squadron of JF-17 became operational. The JF-17s replaced the A-5Cs in No.26 Squadron, Black Spiders in Peshawar AFB. The first batch of 50 aircraft would replace the Nanchang A-5Cs in the PAF. These Thunders are equipped with Chinese avionics and weapon systems and had undergone through extensive testing before being inducted in PAF’s service.
|No.26 Squadron being re-equipped with JF-17 Thunders|
MIRAGE ROSE-I: Making headlines all over the combat aviation world, PAF Mirage ROSE-I aircraft have proved their mettle in international and domestic exercises. In terms of air combat the aircraft comes extremely close to the Mirage-2000 aircraft. With the ability for inflight refueling, and linked with AWACS the aircraft pose a major threat to all the fourth generation fighters in service worldwide. Currently PAF operates 32 Mirage ROSE-I fighter aircraft.
|Mirage ROSE-I Air Superiority Fighter|
F-7PG: Supplementing the F-16s and Mirage ROSE-I is the formidable force of F-7PG aircraft. The F-7PG variant incorporates a “cranked delta” wing which improves take-off, landing and turning performance considerably, as well as extra space in the nose to accommodate the much improved FIAR GRIFO-7MG radar. The aircraft has excellent close combat capabilities, can utilize BVR missiles and can also perform secondary strike missions. PAF has 60 F-7PG aircraft in service. Like the Mirage ROSE-I, it can also be linked with AWACS and is an excellent platform for air defence missions. The aircraft is termed better than the Indian upgraded MiG-21 Bison aircraft.
|F-7PG in a multinational excercise|
MIRAGE ROSE-II/III: The all weather, day/night Mirage ROSE-II and –III strike aircraft forms the dedicated strike platforms. Ability to hit targets with pin point accuracy at a remarkable standoff range of 350 km these aircraft can target almost all the Indian military installations while staying inside Pakistan Airspace. These aircraft are well suited for special missions and can deliver a wide array of standoff weapons neutralizing enemy strongholds in the initial vital hours of any conflict. PAF currently posses 20 ROSE-II and 14 ROSE-III aircraft.
SECONDLINE AIRCRAFT OF THE PAF
F-7MP: Currently the backbone of PAF, the F-7MP is the main workhorse of the PAF. Since its induction in 1990, F-7MPs have flown as an air defence interceptor in all conflicts and military standoffs. These aircraft would start to be replaced by the next block of JF-17 Thunder fighter jets in 2012 and would be completely replaced by 2015. The F-7MPs are equipped with FIAR GRIFO-7 multimode radar. Like the F-7PGs, these aircraft can also conduct BVR combat and has an effective close combat capability. Having a better thrust to weight ratio than the Indian MiG-21s, and better air to air performance than the Indian MiG-21s, MiG-27s, and Jaguars (which comprises over 50% of the IAF), the presence of F-7MPs have a significant impact in PAF’s inventory. PAF currently have 120 F-7MPs in active service.
|F-7MP Air Superiority Fighter|
MIRAGE: PAF currently operates 100 Mirages of various types in its inventory. These aircraft are second generation fighter aircraft, rebuilt to perform secondary duties such as low level air defence, point defence interception, anti ship, reconnaissance and ground attack missions. These Mirages are also on the verge of retirement and would be gradually retired in favour of additional F-16s and FC-20 aircraft. They would start retiring in 2010 and would be completely retired by 2015.
NANCHANG A-5C: A-5Cs were second generation ground attack variant of the MiG-19S fighter aircraft. These aircraft are currently in the process of being replaced by the first batch of JF-17 Thunder aircraft and are expected to be replaced completely by 2012. At present 40 A-5Cs still remain in service.
|Nanchang A-5C Fantan|
AERIAL ASSETS OF PAF
IL-78M AERIAL REFUELLING AIRCRAFT: PAF inducted the first of four Il-78 air-to-air refuelling aircraft ordered from Ukraine as part of its plans to enhance its operational capabilities in 2009 while the rest would be arriving in the mid of 2010. Currently the PAF's fleet of Mirage ROSE-I combat aircraft is currently capable of being refueled in mid-air and other aircraft will have to be modified for use with the air-to-air refuellers. By virtue of its capability to refuel air defence aircraft in air, PAF’s overall potential in terms of its effectiveness to defend the airspace of Pakistan would be significantly enhanced. After attaining the facility, PAF has formally joined the rank of those developed air forces which have already the air refuelling system.
|PAF Il-76MKP Tanker|
SAAB-2000 ERIEYE AEW&C: PAF received first of its four Saab-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control aircrafts from Sweden in 2009 with the rest to follow in 2010.
|Saab-2000 Erieye AEW&C System|
By virtue of these features, PAF will be able to boost its operational capability manifold by achieving requisite early warning for efficient and meaningful air defence of its airspace.
Initially PAF ordered 6 Saab-2000 Erieye AEW&C systems but later revised their order to 4 aircraft. Former CAS of the PAF ACM Kaleem Saadat has accused the ousted dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, of ruining the PAF’s $1.2 billion Saab Surveillance System deal for possible kickbacks. Kaleem said that despite the PAF’s opposition, Musharraf put pressure on the air force to modify the contract to the extent that the number of systems to be purchased from Sweden was reduced from six to four to include two Chinese systems. The $1.2 billion contract was originally meant to acquire six surveillance systems and one Saab 2000 aircraft as VIP version from the Swedish company. He said that he had also argued that even if the Chinese system was provided free of cost, it would be a burden on the PAF because it had to train its pilots, give technical training to others and create a separate specialized team of experts to deal with it.
C-130E ISR: The C-130 Hercules has been the PAF's primary tactical transport aircraft since its induction in the early 1960s. The PAF fleet of C-130s is upgraded with Allison T56-A-15 turboprops and extended fatigue lives by Lockheed-Georgia Company. In 2009 new equipment was inducted to improve the PAF's joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Two C-130 transport aircraft were indigenously modified for day/night ISR operations.
|PAF Falcon 20G|
PAF would be acquiring the Chinese FC-20 aircraft in 2014-15. This is a 4.5th generation multirole fighter aircraft and a direct counter to the Indian Su-30MKI in all aspects. The aircraft currently is being tested and heavily modified for PAF use after which it will enter active service. Modifications include a 3D Thrust Vector Control engine and a powerful Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. At present the aircraft can beat the Su-30MKK, J-11 and Su-27 in turning dogfights and with 3D TVC can easily beat the Indian Su-30MKI in close combat.
|FC-20 during flight trials by PAF test pilot|
PAF is also looking forward to induct the Chinese ZDK-03 AEW&C system mounted on the Shaanxi Y-8F600 transport. The first of these systems would be operational in late 2010. These systems are to be integrated with the first block of JF-17 fighter aircraft as well as the FC-20 aircraft.
For advanced training on the JF-17 and FC-20 aircraft, PAF has also selected the Chinese L-15 supersonic advance training aircraft. The L-15 along with providing training would also supplement the air defence fighters by flying low level air defence missions equipped with short range missiles.
|L-15 Supersonic Trainer|
NETWORK CENTRIC WARFARE CAPABILITY
With time PAF has achieved the capability of ‘Network Centric Warfare’. All PAF frontline fighter aircraft are equipped with secure data links, which enables datalinking with the AEW&C systems. Secure data links are a military inter-computer data exchange format. With data links, military aircraft as well as ships and ground forces may exchange their tactical picture in near-real time.
PAF IN ACTION
During 2009 and 2010, PAF was involved in the thick of intense and toughest aerial exercises, never taken before. With PAF pilots aware of the tactics involved in the present arena of air combat they were ready and willing to accept the new challenges of aerial warfare.
|F-16 on a bombing mission over Waziristan|
BRIGHT STAR 2009: In 2009, PAF made its debut in the Egyptian based multinational exercise, ‘Bright Star 2009’. The PAF contingent comprised of Mirage ROSE-I fighters along with C-130E aircraft. The Mirage ROSE-I proved to be an excellent platform and pose a serious threat to all fourth generation fighter aircraft. In this exercise, PAF Mirages took part as aggressor aircraft and performed extremely well against the much formidable opponents. Besides PAF and Egyptian Air Forces, the air forces from US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Jordon, and Kuwait also participated in the exercise. PAF's participation in the exercise not only helped in improving relations with friendly countries but would also enhanced PAF's operational preparedness.
|Mirage ROSE-I at Bright Star 2010|
IRON FALCON 2009: On the same footings as the Mirage ROSE-I the F-7PG pilots also got a chance to prove themselves when they took part in the UAE based multinational exercise, ‘Iron Falcon 2009’. PAF F-7PGs got a chance to fly against the F-22 Raptors, F-16E/F Block-60 Desert Vipers, upgraded Mirage-2000s and F-16A/B Block-15 fighters. The significance of this exercise was that the PAF pilots faced USAF F-22 Raptor pilots. While the Raptor pilots evaluated PAF pilot’s skill, our pilots also had the opportunity to study their mode of operations. USAF F-22 Raptors made their first appearance in the Middle East at the UAEAWC from November until December 10th 2009. Six Raptors and their support unit from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia performed bilateral training their coalitions partners.
|F-7PG vs F-22 Raptor over UAE during Iron Falcon 2009|
SAFFRON BANDIT 2009/2010: The PAF's Saffron Bandit 2009/2010 exercise focused on extensive training of combat personnel to master the art of urban warfare and terrorist’s takedown.
|F-16s in action during Safron Bandit|
HIGH MARK 2010: The ever-changing geo-political environment in the region demands change in the employment concepts and doctrinal changes in the application of air power with emphasis on joint operations. ‘High Mark 2010’ saw the complete mobilization of the PAF as well as included joint operations with extensive participation from Pakistan Army and Pakistan Navy that further enhanced joint operations, integration and cooperation amongst the three services. The exercise was aimed at conducting operations in near-realistic tactical environment while integrating new inductions and providing role-oriented training to combat and support elements of PAF. The exercise commenced in March 2010. The area of exercise covered the entire country from Skardu in the North to Arabian Sea in the South. All the main operating bases and forward operating bases participated in the exercise. The exercise also marked the debut of JF-17 Thunder, Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C and Il-78 Aerial Refuellers aircraft.
PAF’s war games “High Mark 2010” have reached at their flying peak on the first week, when jet fighters successfully stormed and destroyed ‘enemy positions’ without catching the eye of enemy radars.
|F-7MP on an air defence mission over Islamabad|
|Mirage ROSE-I being refuelled by PAF's Il-76 MKP Tanker|
PAF successfully validated its concept of fighter operations from motorways and highways when its two fighter aircraft landed on a motorway. The historic landmark was achieved as part of the ongoing ‘High Mark 2010’ exercise. After landing, the aircraft were refuelled, rearmed and re-launched. Wing Commander Atta-ur-Rehman was flying Mirage ROSE-II whereas Squadron Leader Nadeem Iqbal was flying F-7PG, when 9,000 ft long and 103 ft wide piece of Islamabad-Lahore motorway was used as runway.
|F-7PG landing on motorway|
The first phase of the exercise concluded in April with a highly impressive fire power display carried out by PAF combat aircraft. The display took place at the PAF firing range at Thal, near Jhang. It was the biggest firepower demonstration since the 1989 show in Somiani near Karachi. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Minister for Defence, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Services Chiefs, Chairmen Senate and National Assembly Committees on Defence, Defence Attaches from various missions in Islamabad and senior military officers witnessed the spectacular fire power and acrobatic show of the PAF hawks.
The weather was clear, visibility unlimited and all the conditions were perfect for the PAF to show their new face to the world. The demonstration started with a low pass by two Mirage fighter bomber aircraft flying faster than the speed of sound, which caused sonic booms.
|Supersonic run by Mirages|
This was followed by attacks from Mirage ROSE-III and JF-17 Thunder aircraft using standoff weapons from a distance of 60 km. With the weapon hitting the targets with pin point accuracy the message was clear that PAF has mastered the art of delivering standoff weapons.
|Mirage ROSE-II attack|
|PAF F-16s in action during the fire power display|
|F-7PG conducting a strafing run|
|Mirage ROSE-I preparing for a Durrandel attack|
|A-5 preparing for a bombing run|
In the third phase of the exercise Pakistan Navy joined its sister services to make it a multi-services joint exercise. PAF Mirages carried out classic anti shipping missions utilizing their skills and resources to their optimum level.
|F-16A on an offensive Anti Ship Mission|
A WORD FROM THE CHIEF OF AIR STAFF
The Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman at the Air in his two-hour-long formal and informal briefing told the media that preparedness and maintaining potential to frustrate any aggression was the right of every country that wished to live with dignity and honour.
He said that a contingency plan was ready to counter any threat to the country’s security and made it clear that any misadventure by the adversary would invite a ‘massive reaction’. Pakistan did not harbour aggressive designs against any country, but was capable of beating back any aggressor. He said Pakistan believed in peace with honour and observed that peace cannot be maintained from a position of weakness
He said the ‘High Mark 2010’ was not aimed against any country, but aimed at evaluating capabilities in an environment where dimensions of threat were changing warranting new concepts. He said the exercise was different in nature from the previous ones because the other two services were also actively taking part in it. He said that this joint exercise not only focuses on to deal with the threat from the traditional rival, but also from the potential unconventional enemy.
When his attention was drawn towards the Indian doctrine of carrying out surgical strikes in the wake of Mumbai attacks, the PAF CAS said the Airforce had immediately developed strategy to counter the threat which barred the adversary to opt for any extreme option. “Our response time during such situations is from 2 to 6 minutes from the ground,” he responded in a firm manner. He said knowing the capability of PAF the adversary did not dare to take any step. He said PAF has been keeping a watchful eye to safeguard the frontiers of the country and effective systems are already in place to meet with any situation.
In reply to a question, he said PAF had already been using Unarmed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology for reconnaissance purposes while it hardly needs to go for armed aerial vehicle He noted that a future war would be swift and intense and said that is why the high tempo operation with a component of time sensitive targeting was being undertaken. He said the budget for the exercise had been managed by savings as a result of 20 per cent reduction in flying from June, without asking for additional funds for the mega event from the Government. Responding to question, he indicated that there was no plan to set up an air base in Azad Kashmir saying that the base in Skardu was sufficient to meet operational requirements of the PAF.
The CAS said Pakistan would start receiving 18 F-16 planes paid for it years back from June and the process would be completed by December. He disclosed that the United States had agreed to provide another 14 Block 52 F-16s to Pakistan shortly. The planes will be equipped with the video and voice recorder (VVR) system rarely provided by the US to other countries, which is a high-resolution cockpit system that places a record of the HUD video, head-down displays, pilot voice and digital data bus information on a TEAC recorder. With this, the number of the F-16 planes, being received from the US till the end of the year, would reach 30, besides the upgrading of the existing planes, acquired in the 1980s He said the existing fleet of F-16s would be upgraded in Turkey from September. He said all the F-16s would be upgraded to Block 52 standards by 2014.
He said he never wanted a deal with the US for purchase of drones since it would be very expensive, but said it would be welcomed if sensors were provided by the US. He said Pakistan develops its own surveillance drones and would invest in research and development to make its own armed drones if a need was felt. The US has not provided its drone technology to any country of the world, except Italy, where they are also operated by the US technicians.
The CAS parried a query about the flight base of the US drones, targeting the tribal areas, and said the Americans returned the control of Shahbaz and Pasni bases back in 2002. No PAF base is in the control of the US forces, he maintained. He expressed his ignorance over the control of the Shamsi base and said it was neither being used by the PAF, nor the Pakistan Army. The base does not belong to the PAF. “I don’t know about the control of the Shamsi base,” he said while replying to a question about its control and its use by the Americans for the flight of drones.
The newsmen were also shown the most modern central security system in place, linked to all the facilities. It is controlled and monitored at a central base on a round-the-clock basis. The PAF has also acquired the US-made road scanners, which could easily detect any bypassing vehicle with weapons or ammunition. The system is working well and efficiently, as the security threat perception has increased for the PAF installations in the wake of use of air power against the militants in the areas adjoined to the border with Afghanistan.
He said the PAF was capable of thwarting both the conventional and unconventional threats from the enemy. He said Pakistan’s missile system was in the best shape and “our all the systems are well tested.” The air chief said the PAF was focusing on its preparedness and taking stock of its preparations according to the modern trends.
PAF RECIEVES NEW F-16 BLOCK-52 FIGHTER JETS FROM US
The first batch of the latest version F-16 C/D Block 52 high tech fighter aircraft arrived Pakistan in June 2010 at the newly developed PAF Base in Jacobabad, after been formally inducted in Pakistan Air Force.
|First F-16C Block-52 landing at PAF Base Shahbaz|
US ambassador in Pakistan Anne Patterson was also present in the ceremony. United States Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Norton Schwartz said, ‘I pay rich tribute to the Pakistani institutions, people and the government for their sacrifices in war against terrorism. Norton said his country will upgrade F-16s already present in Pakistan to be geared up for night-time attack, adding the inclusion of these jets in Pak fleet is a symbol of Pak-US friendship and alliance. General Schwartz said these planes are fully capable to precisely hit the target in war-ravaged areas.
Ambassador Patterson said the planes would come in handy to save Pakistani people from saboteurs, adding Pak-US ties are being enhanced not only in defence but in energy sector as well. She said the US government wants to work in concert with the people here in Jacobabad with funds to be provided for water and hospitals here, adding the efforts projected by Pakistan and the US are aimed at creating peace in the region and world.
Pakistan attaches great significance to its air defence needs. Taking stock of the situation the country had signed a contract with the US government in 2006 for acquisition of 18 F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft. Under this arrangement, PAF would receive these aircrafts in different batches. The delivery of all the 18 aircrafts would complete by the end of this 2010.
JF-17 THUNDER DEBUT AT FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW 2010
The pride of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), the JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft co-produced with China, made its debut at the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA), one of the world’s most prestigious aviation global events.
PAF opted to showcase this amazing modern fighting machine at the FIA, which holds a prominent position within the aerospace calendar in mid July once every two years. The air show organised by Farnborough International Limited was an important event for the aerospace industry because of the announcement of new developments and orders. Demonstration flights and a flying display were held each day of the show. On the last two days, the general public was admitted and some non-commercial items were added to the static and flying displays.
FIA commenced on July 19 and concluded on July 25, 2010, which was to be the most exciting to date. The two JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, produced at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra, a co-production with China, evoked international interest. Reportedly, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh and a number of Middle Eastern and African air forces have expressed their interest in the acquisition of JF-17 Thunder for their respective air forces. The recently concluded PAF exercise Highmark and Army Exercise, Azm-e-Nau III, saw the JF-17 Thunder in action, displaying its multi-role characteristics with precision and accuracy at firepower displays much to the awe of the audience comprising foreign defence attachés, defence personnel, media and parliamentarians.
RED FLAG / GREEN FLAG 2010
Pakistan Air Force made its maiden appearance at the United States Air Force (USAF) Red Flag Exercise 10-4, a series of realistic aerial war games. The Red Flag exercises, which commenced from July 19 to July 31, have been held periodically at the Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) since 1975. Spread over 15,000 square miles of airspace north of
Las Vegas, the exercise is conducted over the Nevada Test and . The purpose of these drills is to give pilots from the Training Range , NATO and other allied countries an opportunity to practice and refine their skills, in a real world combat simulation. US
It took six days and four stops for six Pakistan Air Force pilots to fly six F-16Bs over 7,700 miles from Mushaf Air Base in northern Pakistan to Las Vegas to fly and train in Red Flag 10-4 and Green Flag 10-9 exercises at Nellis AFB. Approximately 100 maintenance, support and aircrew personnel arrived here in mid-July and have already completed the intense two-week Red Flag exercise, which concentrates on large force combat employment. "Red Flag has given the PAF the opportunity to deploy its assets and personnel around the world," said Group Captain Javad Saeed, the Pakistan Detachment commander. "It has also provided a contemporary air combat training environment for our less experienced aircrew members."
The participants are divided into two teams, the Blue Team and the rather more aggressive Red Team. The Red Team is composed of Nellis AFB-based pilots, especially trained for this purpose, while the Blue Team comprises various guest ‘players’. The objective of the Blue Team is to destroy certain targets on the ranges, while the Red Team attempts to defend them. Both teams usually meet in the airspace, where they engage in realistic dogfights. Vantage points afford exercise umpires, observers and visitors an excellent view of the proceedings. The major
participants in the Red Flag 10-4 included B-52 Stratofortresses, F-22 Raptors and F-15E Strike Eagles. Other aircrafts in the exercise included are EA-6B Prowlers, F-15S, F-16s and F-5Es. US
The USAF hosted approximately 100 PAF pilots and support personnel this time round, and in the grand scheme of things, PAF and USAF cooperation yielded big dividends for both. As fighter tactics are constantly evolving, the PAF pilots were able to display their prowess, besides also being able to observe and learn from the air forces of other nations. The PAF flew 57 air interdiction sorties in 12 days. "For PAF to participate in Red Flag, it required training and proficiency on air-to-air refueling operations," Captain Saeed said. The PAF, with U.S. Air Force support, was able to gain that proficiency and refuel 50 times for a total transfer of 110,900 pounds of jet fuel. The captain said deploying to Nellis has given them the opportunity to interact and operate in a joint environment, allowing every person, unit and nation involved to learn from each other. He added that Red Flag provides a rich training environment shaped by different professional forces and nations.
The Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) operated by Nellis AFB includes 1,900 possible targets, realistic threat systems and an opposing enemy force that cannot be replicated anywhere in the world. During Red Flag 10-4, more than 500 personnel were launching over 70 aircrafts twice a day, and KC-135s were pumping around 150,000 gallons of fuel daily. The pilots of PAF’s fleet of F-16Bs pushed their aircraft to the limit, earning plaudits from the opposition. Red Flag 10-4 had personnel from 16 different countries, including units from Pakistan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. Also participating was a NATO unit from Germany and U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force units. "The Pakistan Air Force's participation in this world-class exercise helps to build international air force cooperation, interoperability and mutual support," said Vice Adm. Michael LeFever, the U.S. Defense representative to Pakistan. "The participation, together in this exercise, is not only valuable but also essential in that allied forces are the key to success," said Col. Don Godier, 20th Fighter Wing vice commander and Air Expeditionary Wing commander for Red Flag. Captain Saeed said that Pakistan's participation in Red Flag was useful, adding that he felt the best thing was the debriefing methodology and the tools used to bring out valid lessons.
All in all, Red Flag provided the participating PAF contingent challenging scenarios, and through teamwork and the integration of all the assets deployed it secured success. No single aircraft can handle the tactical challenges that Red Flag presents and this unique platform provided the opportunity to fly with coalition partners and prepare for future high intensity conflicts. Red Flag provided inimitable training not just for pilots, but also for the whole crew as it replicates a full spectrum of threats. The Red Flag exercise covered most scenarios, strategies and tactics that could occur and exposes the crew into a multinational environment providing them with a great platform for mutual learning.
The Pakistan Air Force didn't leave after Red Flag but is stayed for an additional three weeks in order to participate in Green Flag 10-9. Green Flag is an exercise that focuses on close air support of ground troops. Joint terminal attack controllers working on the ground talk to pilots flying overhead and direct them in to provide close air support on the 1,000-square-mile
These unique exercises allow the
This is the first Green Flag exercise for the Pakistani Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force. Their participation increases the interoperability between air forces and the ability to safely execute Close Air Support. Units from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps regularly participate in this exercise, which takes place 10 times annually and involves anywhere from 6,000 to 9,000 troops on the ground at the NTC in addition to aircraft overhead. Green Flag-West's realistic air-land integration and employment training prepares
and allied nations for deployment and modern Close Air Support combat operations worldwide. Aircraft work out of the 549th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis while the Air Force's Battlefield Airmen work out of the 12th Combat Training Squadron at U.S. . Fort Irwin
Green Flag-West provided a large-scale training opportunity that is similar to what can be found in
Aircraft and squadrons participating in Green Flag-West 10-09 included the Pakistan Air Force's F-16s; the Royal Saudi Air Force flying F-15Ss; the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron from Nellis AFB, Nev., flying F-16s and F-15Es; the 319th Air Refueling Wing from Grand Forks AFB, N.D. flying KC-135Rs; the Civil Air Patrol's Clark County Squadron located at the North Las Vegas Airport flying C-182Qs; the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron JTACs from Fort Riley, Kansas and USMC Anglico JTACS from Camp Lejune, North Carolina.