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Air Force Air Defence Command

The Air Defence Command (ADC), commanded by an Air Vice Marshal, maintains a year-round 24 hours surveillance of the national Air Space and controls all Air Defence activities of the PAF. The Air Defence Command exercises the operational control over all the Air Defence elements (Interceptor Fighters, Surface to Air Missiles and Anti Air Craft Guns etc) which are fully integrated with other weapon systems of the PAF to form a cohesive and potent deterrent force. Geographically, the Air Defence of the country is organized on a regional basis for greater efficiency, each region being looked after by a Sector Headquarters.

The strategic defence against a foreign military attack is of paramount importance to any country. For many years there have been measures in place to detect, deter and, if necessary, destroy aircraft that threatened. However, advances in stealthy and fast moving strategic and tactical weapon systems, as well as strategic and tactical ballistic missiles, operating either individually or in combination, necessitates the development and application of effective guidance and control techniques for advanced air-defence.

Consequently, Air Defence must be considered in a "system-of-systems" context and not viewed in isolation. It must be considered in terms of the threat it is intended to counter, as well as the physical and operational environments in which it is employed. Air Defence solutions are fundamentally driven by the operational environment, technology and funding. Rapid technological advances are fuelling a duel of spiralling sophistication between the threat on the one hand and air defence systems on the other.

An advanced AD system must anticipate potential improvements of the air threat in terms of performance and increase of the number of combat application modes. For these purposes an AD system and its main components must have a certain margin of capabilities to guarantee its adaptation to the growing performance of air threat. The greater need for flexibility in collective defence will be explored by discussing the functional integration of maritime air capabilities, extended air defence to include missile defence, enlargement and Peace Support Operations/Crisis Response Operations.

India and Pakistan signed an agreement in April 1991 on "Prevention of Airspace Violations." The agreement incorporates a provision which states: "If any inadvertent violation does take place, the incident will be promptly investigated and the headquarters of the other air force informed of the results without delay, through diplomatic channels"- (Article 1). Article (2b) of the agreement permits "unarmed transport and logistic aircraft including unarmed helicopters air observation post (AOP) aircraft upto 1000 mtrs from each others airspace including ADIZ." Yet another article permits combat aircraft to come as close as 10 Kms from each others airspace including the ADIZ.

Belts of radar stations provide notice of a conventional air attack, while the newer defence systems co-ordinates the surveillance and tracking of all objects in Pakistani and surrounding airspace through various regional control centers. The aircraft tracking system is operated jointly by the Pakistan Air Force and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for both air traffic control and air defence. A low level radar is restricted in its detection range performance by the curvature of the earth. Radar waves like light waves do not follow curves or bends, but instead travel in a straight line. That is why, a ground-based radar cannot detect low flying aircraft beyond the radar horizon, or the point where the radar energy meets the curvature of the earth and continues straight on, above the low flying aircraft, which are flying close to the curving earth below. Therefore, the normal detection range against a low flying intruder on a ground-based low looking radar is at best 40 Kms.

Mobile Observer Units (MOUs) detect intruding Indian fighters. MOUs are deployed along the border to detect low flying intruders. These are deployed at a suitable and safe distance from the border, mostly in areas where less or no low level radar cover is available. MOUs start detecting enemy aircraft once they have crossed into Pakistan's territory. They are most useful for providing early warning against an aerial attack directed towards a particular vulnerable point.

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. 481 Control & Reporting Centre (CRC) based at PAF Base, Lahore, along with seven Mobile Pulse-Doppler Radar (MPDR), was deployed at designated sites till the exercise was called off on 1 June 1998. No. 482 CRC based at PAF Base Malir (Karachi) deployed its MPDR-45 radar in the Sukker area at short notice on 21 May 1998. The radar handled a number of CAP missions that were launched to counter any aerial threat to the nuclear installations. No. 484 CRC based at PAF Chaklala remained on usual alert for the point defence of Kahuta. No. 486 CRC based at PAF Chaklala since November 1985 has been exclusive assigned to the task of defending Pakistan's nuclear installations. It deployed its MPDR-90P radar at Pasni, Balochistan at short notice to detect any attack approaching from the sea. No. 403, a mobile Squadron based at PAF Base, Lahore and equipped with TPS-43G high altitude surveillance radar also participated in Bedaar'98.

No. 408 Squadron based at PAF Malir, (near Karachi) and equipped with FPS-20A high-altitude long range static radar and TPS-43G high altitude radar successfully controlled a number of hot CAP mission and intercepted US Navy aircraft flying close to Pakistan's 12 nautical mile wide territorial sea. Incidentally, this was the same squadron that participated in the several joint PAF/USN exercises called "Inspired Alert" between 1994 and 1997 in which the Squadron had experienced an opportunity to intercept aircraft like the F-14s and F-18s. No. 410 Squadron equipped with TPS-43G radar provided round-the-clock operations and controlled 26 high altitude CAPS during Operation Bedaar'98. No. 4091 Squadron based at Kirana Hills near Sargodha and equipped with Siemens MPDR-90 low-level static radar located at a height of 1,600 feet, provided a surveillance capability for the point defence of Sargodha Air Base and the Central Ammunition Depot (CAD) with its ability to detect aircraft flying at low level at extended ranges.

No. 541 Squadron, a mobile Surface-to-Air-Missile (SAM) squadron based at PAF Chaklala, and equipped with Crotale 2000 performed its duties for the point defence of Kahuta. No. 904 Squadron, based at Murree and equipped with MPDR-90S radar provided both independent and hooked-up mode operations with No. 486 CRC by providing early warning on low and medium level ingressing aircraft towards the national vital points from Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

No. 451 Squadron, a mobile SAM squadron based at PAF Chaklala, and equipped with the Crotale 2000 SAM system provided air defence to the Kahuta and Nilore area. No. 454 Squadron, a mobile SAM squadron based PAF Chaklala, and equipped with the Crotale 2000 SAM system provided air defence cover to the national vital points. No. 455 Squadron, a mobile SAM squadron, deployed in the Kilo area and equipped with the Crotale 4000 SAM system provided air defence cover to the national vital points. No. 242 Squadron, a mobile SAM squadron, based at PAF Base Rafiqui, and equipped with the French Mistral SAM system provided air defence cover to PAF air bases. No.471 Squadron, a SAM squadron, based at PAF Chaklala and equipped with the Black Arrow (Chinese Red Flag II) high-altitude SAM system provided day-night air defence coverage upto 80,000 feet over the Kahuta, Nilore and Fatehjung area.

One significant addition to air defence would be the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, in effect a flying radar station. In May 2006 the cabinet approved plans for the purchase of a $1 billion airborne early warning surveillance system from Swedish firms Saab and Ericsson to boost its air defences.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:39:23 ZULU