IL-78 RefuellerPakistan Air Force (PAF) on Sunday tested its air-to-air refueling that will enhance its capability in military warfare allowing its aircraft long ranges and save costs.

PAF continues to progress as a modern air force while being highly cost effective and showing commitment to be ‘second to none’ as envisioned by Father of the Nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The attainment of the capability was a part of the on-going High-Mark-10 exercises kicked off a week ago.

The first Air-to-Air refueling aircraft joined the Pakistan Air Force in mid of December 2009, and quickly the pictures were released on the Pakistan Defence Forum by its members. PAF is using the IL-78 aircraft that it procured from Ukraine for refueling purposes and immediately installed refueling kits later to save costs. The result is a highly capable platform for a very important purpose for any air force.

IL-78 Air-to-Air refueling aircraft today took active part in the exercises and successfully refueled its two Mirage III/V aircraft in the Pakistan Air Force inventory.

The PAF is expecting delivery of three similar re-fuelling aircrafts by June this year. By virtue of its ability to refuel Air Defence aircraft in air, PAF’s overall capability in terms of its effectiveness to defend the airspace of the motherland has significantly enhanced, a PAF officer said.

The area of exercise High Mark-10 is spread over the entire country from Skardu in the North up to the Arabian Sea in the South. The exercise has been tailored to include joint operations with extensive participation from Pakistan Army and Pakistan Navy that would further enhance might to conduct joint operations amongst the three most essential services.

High Mark-10 is aimed at conducting operations in near-realistic tactical environment while integrating new inductions and providing role-oriented training to combat and support elements of PAF and other services. “It is designed to achieve stipulated objectives with special emphasis on exposing PAF combat crew to simulated air battles based on contemporary concepts,” he said. He said, all the Main Operating Bases (Peace Time) and Forward Operating Bases (War Time) are operative during the on-going exercise.
New inductions like JF-17 Thunder aircraft and force multipliers such as Saab-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft and Air-to-Air Refueller aircraft are participating in the exercise for the first time.

Exercise High Mark is the biggest operational event in the PAF’s history that is being conducted after a pause of five years. The ever changing geo-political environment in the region demands change in the employment concepts and doctrinal changes in the application of air power with emphasis on joint operations, he said. Exercise High Mark 2010 would provide PAF an opportunity to validate these concepts that are vital in the overall defence of the country.

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