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11 Squadron

No 11 Squadron, known as the 'Arrows', has the singular distinction of being the first jet squadron of the PAF. The squadron occupies a glorious place in the annals of PAF history; it is credited with the highest number of 'kills' in the two wars the country has fought and the famous PAF ace Squadron Leader M M Alam belonged to this family of air warriors. The squadron was also honored in 1983 by being the first PAF unit to be equipped with the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

No 11 Squadron was first formed as a light bomber unit on 1 January 1949 at RPAF Station Mauripur; it was to be equipped with twin-engined Brigand aircraft. However, the first Brigand crashed on its way to Pakistan and procurement of these aircraft was cancelled; the squadron was number-plated in February 1949. Two years later, in June 1951, the unit was revived under its first squadron commander, Squadron Leader A Rahim Khan, with the new role of fighter interceptor and this time it had the privilege of being equipped with the first jet fighter in the PAF inventory, the SuperMarine Attacker. It remained the only jet squadron in the PAF until the large scale induction of F-86F Sabers in the mid-50s.

The unit was reequipped with Sabers on 18 January 1956, and its role was changed from Fighter-Interceptor to that of Fighter-Bomber Squadron. In 1965 the squadron was a part of the elite 33 Wing at Sargodha. After proving its mettle in the 1965 India-Pakistan War the squadron was reequipped in 1966 with the Shenyang F-6 (the Chinese-built Mig-19) and its role was changed to air superiority. The squadron shifted to PAF Base Rafiqui in January 71 and remained stationed there till January 1983. In between, it operated during the 1971 War once again from Sargodha. In January 1983 the squadron was moved back to Sargodha to be reequipped with F-16s; its role was then changed to that of a multi-role squadron.

No 11 Squadron can boast of many distinguished pilots and squadron commanders. Three of its commanders reached the top leadership of the PAF: A Rahim Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Khan and M Anwar Shamim. Squadron Leader F S Hussain, its squadron commander in the year 1953, became a legendary figure in the PAF for his highly professional and daring aerobatics displays. M M Alam became a household name in Pakistan after his unprecedented achievements in the 1965 war.

Operating from Sargodha in September 1965 the squadron flew 227 sorties in the seventeen days of war with India. The unit was employed on air defence duties as well as in support of the army. It was credited with shooting down 10 Hunters and 3 Gnats and damaging 3 Hunters, together forming a significant proportion of total PAF air victories. Squadron Leader Muhammad Mahmud Alam emerged from 1965 War as Pakistan's top scoring fighter ace. Squadron Leader Alam claimed 9 aircraft in only three sorties and also had the singular distinction of shooting down 5 Hunters in a single combat sortie. Squadron Leader Muhammad Mahmud Alam, Commander of No 11 Squadron in 1965, was already a notable leader and highly experienced pilot. He also excelled in gunnery competition as a skill that without a doubt contributed greatly to his becoming the first and the only jet ace in one mission.

Flight Lieutenants Jilani, Yousuf Ali and Saad Hatmi shot down 1 Gnat each. Only 1 aircraft was lost due to enemy action and the pilot, Flying Officer Shaukat, flying as Alam's wingman on a fighter sweep over India, was taken prisoner of war. The officers who were awarded combat decorations in the 65 war, included Squadron Leader M M Alam (Sitara-i-Juraat with Bar) and Flight Lieutenants S A Hatmi and Yousaf Ali Khan (both Sitara-e-Juraat).

The squadron was again located at Sargodha for the 1971 war during which it flew several air defence and close support missions. During these operations the 'Arrows' were credited with two kills; Flight Lieutenant Atiq Sufi shot down a Su-7 and Flight Lieutenant Aamer Ali Sharieff a Mig-21. Only 1 aircraft was lost in action and its pilot Flight Lieutenant Wajid A Khan was taken prisoner of war.

Formal recognition of 11 Squadron's acts of valour and meritorious services in defence of the fatherland came in the form of a colour presentation on 18th November 1974 at PAF Base, Rafiqui. The colour was presented by the Prime Minister, Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The battle honour inscribed on one of the scrolls of the banner reads: 'Sargodha 65'. The squadron crest consists of an arrow encircled by eleven stars signifying the pursuit of professional excellence. In 1981, No 11 Squadron won the professionals trophy for its performance in exercise Jetstream.

The PAF operations for the defense of Pakistan's strategic nuclear installations during the May 1998 nuclear tests were codenamed "Operation Bedaar '98" by the PAF. No. 11 MR Squadron "Arrows" (No. 34 Wing), equipped with F-16A/Bs commanded by Gp. Capt. Akhtar H. Bukhari was moved to PAF Shabaz for day-night ADA duties on 24 May 1998.

The graduation ceremony of 'No 23 F-16 Conversion Course' was held at PAF Base Mushaf in Sargodha on Wednesday April 07, 2004. Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Khalid Chaudhry, the chief guest, congratulated the graduating officers. He reminded them of the tough task of being an air force officer. "The services and the entire nation look upon these combat pilots to measure up to their expectations," he said. Earlier, the commanding officer of the No 11 MR Squadron, Wing Commander Haseeb Paracha, gave a brief overview of the graduating course in his inaugural speech. His speech was followed by the certificate distribution ceremony. Squadron Leader Syed Ali Muntazir Rizvi was awarded the top graduate trophy.

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