Pakistan Air Force has declared year 2010 as a safest year in its history of existence. Despite being fully committed in high level wargame exercises, international wargame exercises and air shows, not a single PAF aircraft was lost in any accident. Rather it was a very good year as the PAF enhanced their defensive and offensive capabilities, and tested their equipment and weapon system and exploited their true capabilities.
It were these exercises and exposure to international air arms that rang bells inside the Indian camps and questioned their war preparedness, as according to the Indian media, if India Pakistan goes to war, the IAF will not be that much effective as it is on papers. Recent exercises proved it that most of the guided missiles fielded by IAF has either completed their shelf lives or are duds.
For the first time in history, PAF successfully took part in the war against terror in Swat and FATA region and remained successful by achieving the targets without any loss. PAF also targeted successfully the bunkers and hideouts and eradicated them to help the Pakistan Army for any easy conquest. This was due to the cooperation between PAF and Pak Army that joint operations have received a high degree of success.
|Mirage ROSE-I on a high altitude CAP mission|
SAFFRON BANDIT 2009/2010: Pakistan already faces a threat from the Saffron dressers and for the first time Pakistan Army has tested its available weapon and in the war games named Saffron Bandit 2010. This success has surprised the many nations in the world. Saffron Bandit 2009/2010 exercise focused on extensive training of combat personnel to master the art of urban warfare and terrorist’s takedown. Equipped with new weapon systems and by raising the level of pilot training PAF entered the next decade with a clear message that it is still a highly professional Airforce and retains its ‘hard hitting’ capability.
F-16 landing after an operational mission
JF-17 INDUCTED IN NO.26 SQUADRON (BLACK SPIDERS): Another major milestone was achieved when the first Squadron of JF-17 Thunder formally joined fighter aircraft fleet of Pakistan Air Force on February 2010. A special ceremony was held for this purpose at PAF airbase near Kamra Aeronautical Complex, about 50km from here. Chief of Air Staff Rao Qamar Suleman formally received the squadron.
The Chief of the Air Staff addressing the Airmen congratulated the nation and the PAF personnel on the momentous occasion stated, “The formal induction of JF-17 aircraft in the PAF is in line with our resolve to face all challenges with poise and self-confidence. The PAF has invested in the force multipliers like the Air-to-Air refuellers, UAVs and AEW&C aircraft to enhance our capacity and capability to undertake complex operations,” he said.
“These new state-of-the-art inductions make it imperative that we train hard and prepare well to induct and integrate the new systems professionally and safely. The achievements of PAF leave no doubt in my mind that we are immensely capable and, as a team, can set and achieve still higher standards”.
“We are a peaceful nation with no aggressive designs and want to maintain peace with honour in our region. We are inducting new systems to keep pace with technology and maintain credible conventional balance of force, without which peace cannot be ensured in South Asia,” he said.
He said that the JF-17 would be put through its paces in the forthcoming Exercise High Mark 2010.
The ‘JF-17 Thunder’ has the capability to undertake entire spectrum of offensive as well as defensive missions. By joining the elite ranks of PAF, the JF-17 would not only enhance the combat readiness of PAF but also form its back-bone in future.
The ceremony culminated when an A-5-III fighter led three JF-17 Thunder aircraft in a flypast following which a single JF-17 performed aerobatics over the venue.
Defence analysts term the induction of JF-17 in the PAF fleet a milestone. They stress that strengthening the military has become all the more imperative in the wake of Indian hegemonic designs. They said that although India and Pakistan were about to resume dialogue, history bore testimony that the neighbour had always used talks as a ploy to buy time.
They referred to the reckless statement by Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor and the recent incidents of violation of the Line of Control and the Ceasefire Line.
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.
AZM-NAU III: High Mark 2010 entered its second phase in conjunction with the Pakistan Army’s exercise Azm-Nau III. In this more crucial and significant phase troops of Pakistan Army joined hands with the PAF to carry out joint exercise for the first time in the history of the country. PAF and Pakistan Army conducted joint operations to polish their skills in the near to real conditions created in various geographical conditions. The operations were well coordinated in a manner that the commandos on ground were provided air guard by the PAF jets who pounded the hideout of the terrorists alongside the ground operation displaying the pin point accuracy of the pounding the targets by the jets from a high altitude in air.
F-7MP being recovered at Sargodha after a strike mission
F-16C/D BLOCK-52+ ENTERS SERVICE IN PAF: 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. Eight pilots of the Pakistan Air Force completed their flying training on Block 52 F-16C/D model aircraft at the international F-16 training unit at Tucson, Arizona in May 2010.
They were honoured at a graduation ceremony at the Pima Air and Space Museum. The eight pilots undertook seven months of training in Tucson that included a fighter conversion course on the F-16C/D, flight lead upgrade training and instructor pilot certification so that they could return home and impart similar training to other pilots. Keynote speakers at the graduation ceremony will include Air Marshal Waseemud Din, deputy chief of air staff (Admin), PAF and Brig Gen Lyn D Sherlock, the director of regional affairs, office of the deputy under secretary of the US Air Force for International Affairs.
Following this event was the most awaited event of the last decade. The arrival of the first batch of F-16C/D Block-52+ in Pakistan. On 26 June 2010 the first batch of 3 F-16C/D Block 52+ aircraft were delivered to the PAF at PAF Base Shahbaz, Jacobababad. According to Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman the new fighters eliminated the PAF's limitations in precision night-time strike operations, the existing capability being based on around 34 Mirage ROSE-II fighters upgraded with new avionics for night-time precision strike missions under the Retrofit Of Strike Element (ROSE) programme. By December 2010, the delivery of 18 aircraft was completed and it is planned that these 18 aircraft would be formed as a part of No.5 Squadron PAF.
Addressing the ceremony held in connection with formally inducting the fighter jets in the PAF fleet, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman said this was a dream that came true today, underscoring the need for cooperation in future as well. Suleman said the handing of new fighter jets would boost confidence in relations between the two counties, adding the F-16s already present in Pakistan helped a lot in anti-terror war. The inducting of these jets marked a beginning of new chapter in the PAF’s technology; also, they will go a long way in Pakistan’s defence from internal and external challenges.
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.
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 Training Range. The purpose of these drills is to give pilots from the US, NATO and other allied countries an opportunity to practice and refine their skills, in a real world combat simulation.
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.
FALCON AIR MEET 2010: Falcon Air Meet was a two-week exercise bringing service members from various countries together to share doctrine and procedures, strengthen relationships, and improve regional security. A friendly competition also a highlight of the exercise provided unique training experiences.
Royal Jordanian Air Force Brig. Gen. Yousef Al-Hnaity, the Azraq Air Base commander, was to host the teams from four nations, including his own country of Jordan, and teams from the UAE, Pakistan and the U.S. Navy and Air Force. The purpose of the Falcon Air Meet was to improve international military relations and joint air operations.
Falcon Air Meet included numerous competitions including alert scramble and bombing competition. Previously Falcon Air meet was more F-16 orientated competition, but recently has evolved into a more fully rounded exercise, with a concentration on modern warfare tactics and close-air support operations with Mirage ROSE-I's and F-18′s. The United States, Jordan and Pakistan participated in the Falcon Air Meet to improve international military relations and joint air operations.
PAF contingent comprised of six Mirage ROSE-I multirole fighters, with a support C-130E Hercules. The Mirages belonged to No.7 Squadron 'Bandits' and proved their worth by winning two of the four competitions held in FAM 2010.
ZHUHAI AIRSHOW 2010: For the first time in history, a PAF contingent participated in Zhuhai Airshow in China. Apart from the Sherdil Team which comprised of K-8P aircraft, JF-17 Thunder aircraft performed live solo aerobatics which left many dazzled. It also shut the mouth of the critics who called it an underpowered aircraft, as most of the stunts carried out by the Thunder were those which we used to see in F-16 and F-18 air show.
PAF also finalized the deal for the ZDK-03 AWACS system mounted on the Chinese version of AN-12 Transport aircraft as well as the initial batch of 500 SD-10 BVR missiles. This was a major boost in PAF's modernization as well as a welcome addition in its BVR arsenal.
EXCERCISE AL-SAQOOR II: Pakistan Airforce (PAF) and Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) conducted a joint air power employment exercise code name "Al Saqoor-II" in Saudi Arabia. The joint exercise commenced on January 6 and was completed on 19th.
PAF contingent comprised of F-16A/B Block-15 and Mirage ROSE-I & II aircraft, while RSAF element consisting of F-15 aircraft participated in the exercise in which air operations were executed in near realistic environment.
Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, PAF visited Saudi Arabia on December 15, 2010 to meet the participating personnel of the two air forces. He also flew in a PAF F-16 to participate in the air operations. The air chief was warmly welcomed by the Chief of the Royal Saudi Air Force, Gen Mohammad Abdullah Al-Aish. The two discussed matters of professional interest and means to further enhance co-operation between the two air forces.
The exercise will benefit both participants and hone their professional skills and further enhance existing brotherly relations between the two nations and air forces. It will also enable personnel of the two forces become familiar and come closer to each other.
CONCLUSION: Pakistan Air Force not only proved its worth in the war fields but also displayed good performance during the calamities and helped the flood victims to win hearts of the masses and made history. The PAF also worked in the rehabilitation services to surpass the performances of the other organizations.
By the end of 2010, it was clear to the world that PAF still is a hard hitting force, with excellent training and advance weapon systems in its hand. The much awaited Chinese FC-20 and its fifth generation fighter J-20 are expected to join PAF in this decade which are PAF's answer to the Indian Su-30MKI and FGFA.With the entire PAF operated on war footing throughout the year, i.e. domestic and international wargames and competed againt the best in the world, it has enhanced its confidence and morale, and consider itself well equipped to handle the IAF, thwarting its dream to chew the PAF without any resistnce.