Monday, December 29, 2014

A Determined Enemy Pilot

By: John Fricker

The war of September was almost two weeks old. Two F-104s were scrambed from Sargodha on a CAP over Lahore, where they were vectored by Sakesar towards a couple of unidentified aircraft at about 25,000ft. Visual contact was made with the bogies by the Starfighter leader at a range of about seven miles, and they were quickly identified as IAF Hunters. The PAF leader then lost contact, but by this time his No. 2, Flt. Lt. Arif Manzoor, had picked up the Hunters on his radar and took over the lead. As he began overtaking the Hunters at about Mach 0.85, both IAF aircraft broke left, probably warned of the F-104's presence by Amritsar Radar.

One Hunter roled over on its back and pulled through in a split-S manoeuvre while the other turned so tightly during its break that Flt. Lt. Manzoor saw it stall and pitch up no fewer than three times. By then, the F-104s had been separated, but Flt. Lt. Manzoor stayed with the second Hunter, hoping to release a Sidewinder as soon as it became possible to relax the amount of g being pulled in the turn. In the meantime, he also endeavored to close range of the Hunter, but he found the target sliding up his windscreen as the IAF aircraft tightened its turn still further.

As he racked the Starfighter round as tightly as possible, Flt. Lt. Manzoor opened up power to keep his speed above Mach 0.9. He was therefore unworried about being intercepted in turn despite warnings from his wingman of other enemy aircraft in the vicinity.

In all, the F-104 made four attempts to nail his determined adversary, but each time the Hunter was able to out-turn the Starfighter, although it stalled out twice in the process. Eventually, Flt. Lt. Manzoor realised that the situation was a stalemate, and as his fuel was down to 2,100 lb, and he was within sight of Adampur, he disengaged by zooming up in afterburner power to 36,000ft. This degree of flying skill was not often demonstrated by the IAF, although it obviously had a large number of experienced fighter and bomber pilots to draw upon as several other engagements showed.These, however, all involved the PAF F-86 Sabre, which the IAF was less reluctant to engage than the Starfighter, since its Hunters and Gnats were both considerably faster than the Sabre.

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