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Pakistan Air Force

Pakistan Air Force was born on 14th of August 1947, with the independence of Pakistan. The growth of PAF is a story of unusual sacrifice. A tiny auxiliary Service, with a small number of personnel and insignificant equipment, emerging as a powerful weapon of the country's defence, was a thrilling phenomenon. The dedication of its pioneers shaped the future of a force, destined to gain respect, after proving its worth in the wars of 1965 and 1971, where it was unfortunately vanquished by a much more powerful enemy, India. The story of PAF is a tale of development, despite heavy odds and limitations.

The PAF emblem symbolizes a Muslim flyer. The most striking element is the spread eagle perched in the centre of the roundel. Referred to as "Shaheen" the eagle is a bird of heraldry in eastern tradition. The poet-philosopher of the east, Allama lqbal, has visualized a true believer in the grace and majesty of the bird Shaheen. A man imbued with the love and devotion of his Maker (Allah) would, in the spirit of the bird eagle, be capable of high flight and supremacy over the enemy.'ln the emblem, there is a verse line from lqbal's poetry over the bird "Shaheen". Translated, into English, it would read "Be it land or sea, all is beneath my wings". In the same spirit, PAF is honour-bound to play its crucial role in the defence of Pakistan.

In 1994 the Pakistan Air Force had 45,000 active personnel and 8,000 reserve personnel. Headquartered in Rawalpindi, it comprised directorates for operations, maintenance, administration, and electronics. There were three air defense districts -- north, central, and south. The Air Force relies on aging Mirage III and V variants, Chinese models of older Soviet MiGs, and a few F-16A Falcons delivered in the 1980s. Any qualitative edge Pakistan might once have enjoyed over India was gone, except perhaps in subsystems and electronic warfare components.

In 1994 the air force was organized into eighteen squadrons, with a total of 430 combat aircraft. Of the forty aircraft originally acquired, thirty-four were in service by 1994, divided among three squadrons. Some were reportedly grounded because of a lack of spare parts resulting from the 1990 United States suspension of military transfers to Pakistan. Pakistan had an additional seventy-one F-16s on order, but delivery has been suspended since 1990. Other interceptors included 100 Chinese J-6s (which were scheduled to be phased out) and eighty J-7s, organized into four squadrons and two squadrons, respectively. Air-to-air missiles included the Sparrow, Sidewinder, and Magic.

The air force had a ground-attack role. The air force had three squadrons of Chinese Q-5s (a total of fifty aircraft) as well as one squadron of eighteen Mirage IIIs and three squadrons (fifty-eight aircraft) of Mirage 5s, one squadron of which was equipped with Exocet missiles and was deployed in an antiship role. In 1994 Pakistan took out of storage thirty of forty-eight Mirage IIIs that it had originally acquired from Australia; the Mirages were grouped into a fighter squadron. Additionally, Pakistan's Mirage 5s were scheduled to be upgraded with French assistance.

The backbone of the transport fleet was formed by twelve C-130 Hercules, which had recently been upgraded; plans to acquire more were stymied by the dispute with the United States over Pakistan's nuclear program. A pair of L-100s were bought to serve with the national airline and found their way into military service. One had since crashed but the other L-100 was the only remain unmodified L-100 operating in the world. There were also smaller transport aircraft and a variety of reconnaissance aircraft.

A rivalry exists between the Army and Air Force, and there is debate among the military regarding whether the Air Force should redefine its primary mission, which is to support Army operations during war. More than half of the Pakistan Air Force is dedicated to close air support operations. These units played a key role in defending Pakistani territory during the 1965 and 1971 wars.

“Notwithstanding the importance of quality military hardware; the competence to squarely face an adversary comes through passionate and aggressive frame of mind along with realistic and persistent training. Hence, we have already undertaken a major appraisal of our assets, developmental plans and operational doctrine to meet these challenges”, said Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force 17 February 2014, while addressing the Graduation Ceremony of 43rd Combat Commanders’ Course held at Pakistan Air Force Base Mushaf today. Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force was the Chief Guest on the occasion. In his address to the graduating Combat Commanders, the Air Chief said, “Nature of aerial warfare continues to rise in complexity under a time compressed scenario. In our peculiar environment, any future conflict would entail Airpower employment with all its speed, might, lethality, modern capabilities and concepts. You must continue to strive for excellence in your upcoming assignments as core professionals. Additionally, you must also learn more about the nature of threats and continue to orchestrate tactics for maintaining PAF’s traditional professional dominance over its adversaries."

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Page last modified: 15-07-2014 20:19:22 ZULU