|HISTORY OF PAF
|In 1933, British colonial government
of India established the subcontinent’s first Air Force station
near Drigh Road, now called PAF Base Faisal. In 1934, this element of
the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) was extended to the north for operations
in NWFP. The RIAF had also contributed to the defeat of Japanese invasion
during World War II.
In 1947, the British left sub-continent after dividing
it into two sovereign states of India and Pakistan. Pakistan Air Force
(PAF) was born immediately afterwards. Distribution of military assets
between the new states was to follow. However, India with an inherent
resentment towards the creation of Pakistan tried to subvert our capabilities
by crippling Pakistan militarily. It denied the then Royal Pakistan Air
Force (RPAF) even the officially agreed small portions of weapons, equipment
and aircraft allocated by departing British as its legitimate share. Much
of what was eventually received from India was inoperable. Crates of equipment
contained nothing but scrap and waste. The RPAF got 16 fighter aircraft
as its foundation. It started off with one squadron of eight Tempest aircraft
and a small remnant of No 1 Squadron Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) which
was subsequently utilized to raise No 5 Squadron.
Within three weeks of independence, Indian
hegemonic designs sparked off the first war between Pakistan and India.
Pakistan’s young air arm was called upon to fly supply missions
with one of the two war weary Dakotas. Contending with the unpredictable
weather, the difficult terrain, and the enemy fighters was an uphill task.
The strength was replenished with two more Dakotas only as the skirmishes
resumed the following winters. In the narrow valleys of Kashmir, the stirring
tale of Flying Officer Mukhtar Dogar defiantly scissoring his lumbering
Dakota with pursuing RIAF Tempests taking pot-shots at him defined the
fighting doctrine of the PAF, defend Pakistan and learn to fight outnumbered.
Within the span of a year this young air force had completed 437 mercy
drops, delivering more than 500 tons of supplies and food.
Whilst these brave pioneers were documenting
the historic beginning of PAF, the force was faced with the enigma of
finding aircraft to fly. However, despite the lack of funds and market
places, PAF entered the jet age in August, 1951 with the induction of
British built Attackers. Until mid-1950s PAF’s fighter force comprised
nearly 100 Hawker Furies and a dwindling number of Tempests. Then, the
first air defence radar was installed and the PAF was rapidly setting
up its own advanced flying and technical training institutions. F-86 Sabers
and T-33 jet trainers were inducted in PAF as a result of the United States
From 1955 to1965, the Air Force armed its
squadrons with the most modern jet fighters and bombers, Sabers and F-104
Starfighters as fighters, B-57s as bombers and the ubiquitous C-130s as
transport fleet. The seven years of rigorous training with realistic threat
perception, planning and preparation had enabled PAF to inflict a humiliating
defeat on the enemy in 1965 when the mutual hostility of the rival neighbours
escalated into a war. PAF struck hard its rival and kept it reeling under
tactics of shock and unpredictability. Many victories came to PAF pilots
who exacted an even retribution on the enemy, leaving it in total disarray.
At the end of the war, India had lost 110 aircraft with 19 damaged, not
including those destroyed on the ground at night, against a loss of 16
PAF planes. Thus the outnumbered PAF emerged triumphant over a four times
larger force, its air defence controllers, engineers, logisticians and
hands just as much the heroes as its pilots.
The third war between the South Asian foes
began when, in December 1971, the Indian Army crossed into East Pakistan
and from the encircling air Bases ten squadrons of the IAF challenged
the PAF’s only squadron, No 14, located at Dhaka. The Tail Choppers
of 1965 rose heroically to meet the aggressors, and before their squadron
was grounded by a bombed out runway, they and their ack ack gunners had
destroyed 23 IAF aircraft. The PAF’s Mirages, B-57s, Sabers, F-6s
and a few F-104s spearheaded Pakistan’s retaliation from the west.
At war’s end IAF had lost 130 aircraft in all. The three-to-one
kill ratio that Pakistan scored, however, could not prevent the tragic
fall of Dhaka. The trauma of separation of East Pakistan and a preventable
military catastrophe affected all Pakistanis deeply and lingered long
afterwards. However a stoic recovery was brisk. PAF soon reorganised and
reequipped assimilating the new threat environment on the sub-continent.
During the Afghan war in the eighties, PAF
had to keep a constant vigil on its western border. Despite the fact that
PAF was not allowed hot pursuit into Afghanistan, the pilots and the ground
controllers together managed to shoot down eight Soviet/Afghan aircraft
without a single own loss.
The post-Afghan war period witnessed a resource
constraint with the drying up of traditional sources. The immediate need
for induction of a hi-tech aircraft was one part of the crises; the sheer
sustenance of the fleet was another. Due to economic constraints, PAF
went for cost effective purchases like A-5 aircraft and such upgrades
as the ROSE, which gave the old Mirages very good nav-attack, weapon delivery,
and other capabilities. With this, self-reliance picked up pace and PAF
worked on Griffo radar, Mistral and Anza missiles simultaneously. To keep
the ageing weapon systems & aircraft from becoming obsolete, chaff
and flares dispensers, radar warning receivers, and laser automation for
better weapon delivery were added to the old aircrafts.
The succeeding years witnessed many significant
developments including the milestones achieved by the Pakistan Aeronautical
Complex (PAC), Kamra such as F-7P overhaul, aircraft engines maintenance,
the co–production of K-8 and Super Mushshaq aircraft, the quality
standards achieved by Kamra Avionics and Radar Factory. Project JF-17
Thunder was conceived to replace the PAF’s ageing, medium-tech fleet
of Mirages, F-7, and A-5 aircraft that would progressively retire from
service. It is planned to be a multi-role, light-weight day/night all
weather fighter. It would be able to attack ground targets and ships,
and engage enemy aircraft at considerable ranges. The aircraft will be
inducted in PAF by 2006 and will be co-produced at PAC Kamra. This technological
edge will secure both better national security environment and economic
benefits for the country.
Today, new maintenance concepts and facilities
are based on a more direct communication, optimum use of software database
and reliable electronic networks. Accompanying the technological developments,
education and training are duly accentuated with special emphasis on R
In the wake of war on terrorism and with
the reality of living with an implacable opponent, Pakistan Air Force
keeps on an all-time vigil. During Ops- Sentinel 2001-2002, when India
had amassed its forces on Pak borders, PAF remained ready for dealing
a telling blow to the enemy.
Derived from the national military
objectives, the PAF leadership has clearly visualised and laid down the
operational doctrine for the nation’s air arm. PAF takes its pick
of the finest young people in the land. It has now acquired new depths
of human skills and initiative. Together, all branches of PAF are delivering
unprecedented serviceability rates and efficient management of all resources.
Poised on the threshold of tomorrow, PAF remains, as the Quaid said, “Second
to None”; fully abreast with the requisite will and mechanism to
live by its standards in the coming millennium and beyond.