Pakistan Air Force ( A symbol of Pride for its nation )

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Pakistan Air Force (PAF) (Urdu: پاک فضائیه Pak Fiza’ya) is the air arm of the Pakistani Armed Forces and is primarily tasked with the aerial defence of Pakistan with a secondary role of providing air support to the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Navy. The PAF also has a tertiary role of providing strategic air transport and logistics capability to Pakistan. The PAF employs approximately 65,000 full-time personnel (including approximately 3,000 pilots) and, currently, operates 453 combat aircrafts as well as various transport and training aircraft

The F-86 Sabre was in PAF service from 1955 to 1980.

Although the Pakistan Air Force had limited funds to utilize and few markets to choose from, it entered the jet age relatively early. Initially it planned to acquire U.S. built F-94Cs, F-86s, or F-84s and produce its order in Pakistan. However, lack of funds and strong British pressure persuaded the PAF to acquire the British Supermarine Attacker. The Supermarine Attacker had a rather unsatisfactory service in the Pakistan Air Force with frequent attrition and maintenance problems. In 1957 the Pakistan Air Force received 100 American-built F-86 Sabres under the U.S. aid program. Many squadrons in the PAF retired its Hawker Furys and Supermarine Attackers, and replaced them with F-86 jet fighters. In 1957 thirty-six year old Air Marshal Asghar Khan became the Pakistan Air Force’s first commander-in-chief.

1959: PAF Draws ‘First Blood’

On 10 April 1959, on the occasion of the Islamic Eid ul-Fitr festival holiday in Pakistan, an Indian Air Force (IAF) English Electric CanberraB(I)58 entered Pakistani airspace on a photo reconnaissance mission. Two PAF F-86F Sabres from No. 15 Squadron on Air Defense Alert (ADA) were scrambled from Peshawar Air Base to intercept the IAF aircraft. The Sabre pilots were Flt. Lt. M. N. Butt (leader) and Flt. Lt. M. Yunis (wingman)(Later Air Vice Marshal) whereas Pilot Officer Rab Nawaz was the on-duty Air Defense Controller for this mission. Nawaz successfully vectored both Sabres to the location of the high-flying Canberra. Butt attempted to bring down the Canberra by firing his Sabre’s machine guns, but the Canberra was flying at an altitude of more than 50,000 feet – beyond the operational ceiling of the F-86F. When Yunis took over from his leader, the Canberra suddenly lost height while executing a turn over Rawalpindi. Yunis grabbed this opportunity and fired a burst from his 12.7 mm guns that struck the Canberra at an altitude of 47,500 feet and brought it down over Rawat, near Rawalpindi. Marking the first aerial victory of the PAF . ’55-5005′ was the serial number of the F-86F Sabre that was flown by Flt. Lt. Yunis that day. Both the occupants of the IAF Canberra, namely Sqn. Ldr. J.C. Sen Gupta (pilot) and Flt. Lt. S.N. Rampal (navigator) from the IAF’s No. 106 Sqn., ejected and were captured by Pakistani authorities and were subsequently released after remaining in detention for some time.

Flying Officer Waleed Ehsanul Karim poses in front of his F-86.

The Air Force has about 65,000 active personnel with about 10,000 reserves. The Chief of the Air Staff holds the operational and administrative powers. He is assisted by a Vice Chief of Air Staff and six Deputy Chiefs of the Air Staff who control and administer the Administration, Operations, Engineering, Supply (logistics), Personnel, and Training divisions of the PAF respectively. Recently, the Air Headquarters (AHQ) has been moved from Chaklala to Islamabad. Major Air force bases are at Shorkot, Karachi, Quetta, Kamra, Peshawar, Mianwali,Sargodha and Risalpur. There are many war-time operational forward bases, civilian airstrips and runways as well as emergency motorways.


  • Air Force Strategic Command (AFSC), Islamabad
  • Northern Air Command (NAC), Peshawar
  • Central Air Command (CAC), SARGODHA
  • Southern Air Command (SAC), Faisal, Karachi
  • Air Defence Command (ADC), Chaklala, Rawalpindi

PAF F-16s arrive at Red Flag 2010 in Nevada

1965 India-Pakistan War

PAF B-57 Canberra bombers lined up at an airbase.

The PAF fleet at the time consisted of 12 F-104 Starfighters, some 120 F-86 Sabres and around 20 B-57 Canberra bombers. The PAF claims to have had complete air superiority over the battle area from the second day of operations. It is believed that the Indian Army would agree.Close air support to the Pakistan Army was unexpectedly effective and the PAF is widely considered to have neutralized the large difference in military strength of India and Pakistan.

Many publications have credited the PAF’s successes to U.S. equipment, claiming it to be superior to the aircraft operated by the IAF and giving the PAF a “qualitative advantage”. However some people refute this argument. As per them, the IAF’s MiG-21, Hawker Hunter andFolland Gnat aircraft had better performance than the PAF’s F-86 fighters. According to Air Cdre (retired) Sajad Haider, the F-86 Sabre was inferior in both power and speed to the IAF’s Hawker Hunter.

According to Air Commodore (retired) Sajjad Haider who flew with No. 19 squadron, the F-104 Starfighter did not deserve its reputation as “the pride of the PAF” because it “was unsuited to the tactical environment of the region. It was a high-level interceptor designed to neutralize Soviet strategic bombers in altitudes above 40,000 feet.” Nevertheless the IAF is believed to have feared the Starfighter although, according to some, it was not as effective as the IAF’s Folland Gnat. According to Indian sources, the F-86F performed reasonably well against the InAFHawker Hunters but not as well against the Folland Gnat, which was nicknamed Sabre Slayer by the InAF.

It has been claimed by some neutral sources that the PAF “successfully trumped India in air combat” during this war.

Air Commodore Muhammad Mahmood Alam (Urdu: محمد محمود عالم ,) is a retired Pakistani fighter pilot, North American F-86 Sabre Flying ace and 1 star general who served with the Pakistan Air Force. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurrat ("The star of courage"), a Pakistani military decoration, for his actions during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.


Alam is well-known for his actions during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 when he was posted at Sargodha. During this war he was involved in various dogfights while flying his F-86 Sabrefighter. Pakistani sources claim that he downed nine Indian fighters, six of them Hawker Hunter fighters of the Indian Air Force, in air-to-air combat. It is also claimed that, in one mission, 5 Indian fighters were downed in less than a minute by Alam, which explains his score with a special aiming and firing technique he developed

The PAC JF-17 Thunder (Urdu: تھنڈر), also designated CAC FC-1 Xiaolong (English: Fierce Dragon; Chinese: 枭龙; pinyin:Xiāo Lóng), is a light-weight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Chengdu Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAC) of China, the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). It is designated as “JF-17 Thunder” by Pakistan, which is short for “Joint Fighter-17” and as “FC-1 Xiaolong” by China, which is short for “Fighter China-1

A JF-17 Thunder of the Pakistan Air Force takes off during an aerobatics display at the Zhuhai Air Show 2010.

The JF-17 was primarily developed to meet the requirements of the Pakistan Air Force for a low-cost multi-role combat aircraft as an inexpensive replacement for its large fleet of aging Nanchang A-5 bombers, Chengdu F-7 interceptors and Dassault Mirage III/5 fighters. It was also to have export potential to air forces of developing countries as a cost-effective alternative to more expensive Western-origin fighters.

Pakistan and China signed the contract to jointly develop the FC-1 / Super 7 in 1999. Pace of design was very slow, due to the inability to acquire an avionics and radar package from Europe, until the design of the airframe was “de-coupled” from the avionics design in 2001. The maiden test flight of the first prototype took place during 2003 in China, the Pakistani designation Super 7 being replaced with JF-17, and later test flights with a modified design occurred in 2006. Deliveries to the Pakistan Air Force for further flight testing and evaluation began in 2007 and the aircraft’s first public aerial display took place that year in Islamabad. The Pakistan Air Force officially inducted its first JF-17 squadron, No. 26 Squadron Black Spiders, on 18 February 2010 with 14 aircraft.

The JF-17 is expected to cost approximately US$15 million per unit and the Pakistan Air Force has a confirmed order for 150 JF-17s, which may increase to 250 aircraft. It was reported in 2008 that Azerbaijan and Zimbabwe had placed orders for the aircraft and nine other countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Algeria showed interest

Women in the PAF

In September 2009 it was reported that seven women had qualified as operational fighter pilots on the Chengdu F-7, the first female combat pilots in the PAF’s history, one of them being Ambreen Gull. Commanding Officer Tanvir Piracha emphasised that if the female pilots “are not good enough as per their male counterparts, we don’t let them fly.” It was noted that some of the female pilots wear the hijab while others do not.

IN SHORT PAF is among one of the best air forces with respect to pilot training.. combat history.. The pilots of PAF stands on top of every air force pilots

for more on pilot training of PAF visit

A PAF F-16 is refuelled in-flight by a U.S.A.F. KC-135 tanker during Red Flag 2010.


2 responses to “Pakistan Air Force ( A symbol of Pride for its nation )

  1. Pingback: Pakistan Air Force ( A symbol of Pride for its nation ) (via My Wardrobe) « Calgary Recreational and Ultralight Flying Club (CRUFC)

  2. Pingback: Rescue as a Counterinsurgency Tool | Personnel Recovery Issues

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