Defence.pk's Exclusive Interview with a PAF topgun, Air Commodore (R) Kaiser Tufail 04 March 2014
-Q1: Assalam-o-alaikum, first of all I would like to welcome you to defence.pk and would request you to please give our international audience a brief snapshot about yourself and your career with the Pakistan Air Force.
I, was Educated at Cadet College Hasanabdal (1967-1972). Commissioned in PAF in 1975. Flew trainers (T-6G Harvard, Mushaak, T-37, MiG-15UTI, FT-5) and fighters (F-6, Mirage-III/5, F-16A/B, Mirage F-1E, F-7P, F-7PG). Member of ‘Sherdils’ aerobatics team (1980-1982). Commanded No 8 Tac Attack Sqn, No 34 Tac Attack Wing, and PAF Base Masroor. Staff jobs included Director Operations at AHQ, and Deputy Commandant Air War College. Attended courses at Air War College and National Defence University. Retired in 2005. Now settled in Lahore.
Q2: Please tell us what the PAF F-16’s MLU-MIII and Block-52+ induction program means for PAF’s operational capabilities in regards to the balance of air power in the region?
The MLU upgrade of the F-16A/B as well as induction of F-16C/D-52 has multiplied the capabilities of F-16s manifold. The most lethal capability that has been added is the AMRAAM missiles whose need had been felt badly ever since the IAF’s induction of the Mirage-2000, which had rendered the PAF at a disadvantage with regard to BVR capability. The F-16 fleet forms the backbone of the PAF’s high-end fighters, and the PAF’s qualitative edge has been restored which would help immensely, in view of the adversary’s numerical superiority. The mood amongst the fighter pilots is now similar to that in 1965: “Bring ‘em on”!!
Q3: Would we see a PAF with only 2 platforms, the F-16s and JF-17 aircrafts, with all F-7P/PG, Mirage III/V aircrafts eventually replaced?
The Mirage-III/5 and F-7Ps would certainly be phased out over the next ten years, as all of them would have outlived their useful life by then. The F-7PG being a later induction would soldier on till about 2030 in the OCUs for operational conversion. It is particularly suitable for this role as it is a simple and cheap, yet capable, fighter. With F-16 and JF-17 forming the core of the fighter fleet, it is expected that operational training as well as maintenance of just two weapon systems would be very easy to manage.
Q4: What does the induction of force multipliers i.e. the airborne refueling tankers, SAAB EriEye and ZDK-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control aircrafts mean for the operational capabilities of the Pakistan Air Force?
These assets would essentially boost the air defence capabilities. The AEW&C aircraft would allow a greater early warning on any low flying intruders, thus improving the reaction time and lessening the dependence on constant air patrols. Similarly, the aerial refuellers would help the short-legged and low endurance F-7PG and JF-17 stay aloft for longer periods.
Q5: How do you see the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex’s JF-17 Thunder program in the light of industrial benefits to the Pakistani aviation industry for the future and should or not Pakistan open its private sector for researching, developing and producing its own sub systems, weapon systems and spare parts for this aircraft?
It has been seen that with a poor industrial base, there are very few vendors who would be willing to invest in Pakistan’s aeronautical industry, which manufactures only a small number of aircraft. Unless PAC sees a massive boost in export of its aircraft, one does not see the private sector being very enthusiastic about investing wholeheartedly. As for R&D, the private sector is quite welcome, but again, there are little profits in this sector.
Q6: Please address the RD-93’s performance, KLJ-7VII Radar capabilities, and what upgrades can we expect to see on the JF-17 Block-II aircraft.
Classified – the details cannot be discussed.
Q7: How would you rate the SD-10A Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile's operational performance against the Raytheon’s AIM-120C-5/7 AMRAAM which PAF has deployed on its F-16s?
Surprisingly, the SD-10 is no less in performance than the AIM-120C. (Details classified)
Q8: In your view is there an immediate need for Helmet Mounted Targeting Systems i.e the JHMCS, Archer, Cobra etc integration on the JF-17s along with 5th generation Within Visual Range High off Bore Sighted Air to Air Missiles like the AIM-9X, PL-10, IRIS-T or A-Darter?
HMTS would be integrated in due course as the operational capabilities come up to speed.
Q9: Do F-16s and JF-17s fulfill nation’s high altitude war fighting requirements and if or not there is a need for a canard fighter like the Chengdu J-10B for such a role?
The Canards have nothing to do with high altitude performance. They are normally used as control surfaces in modern delta winged aircraft (Rafale, Eurofighter, Gripen, Raptor), which would otherwise suffer from drag rise during maneuvering flight. The Mirage-III and other conventional aircraft (those without aft centre of gravity and fly-by-wire) whose design does not permit aft CG and cannot utilise canards as control surfaces, suffer from immense drag rise during manoeuvering. As for JF-17 and F-16, both have enough thrust-to-weight ratio and low supersonic drag, to be able to perform at high altitudes without any problem. The F-16C/D is superior to the J-10, except for low speed maneuvering, which isn't much fun these days when high-G maneuvering missiles can swat such low-energy objects with great ease.
Q10: There were news reports citing ex Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleiman about the evaluation of advanced medium and long range surface to air missile systems. Does PAF need SAM systems like these in regards to its operational doctrine? How do you see the role of SAMs like the S-300 family in regards to modern war fighting while keeping the Russian supplies of S-300s to Basher Al Assad in Syria in mind and how it changed the power dynamics in that region?
Of course, we'd like to have long-range SAMs. Any Air Force would want them. Coupled with early warning from AEW aircraft, one could theoretically achieve air superiority quickly and surely. However, both the cost and their availability mitigates against their being part of PAF’s inventory any time soon. Besides, it has to be remembered that if at all we manage to get them, our traditional adversary will not sit easy and an arms race is bound to spike up, much to the detriment of our moribund economy.
Q11: What is your opinion about the induction of Dassault Rafale and MIG-29 SMT, Su 30 MKI upgrades in the immediate neighborhood, and what does it mean for the balance of air power vis-à-vis PAF in the region?
We Can't be complacent. We need to keep up with the adversary’s advancing capabilities.
Q12: How would you rate the pilot training standards in PAF in a comparison to the 1990’s? How do you see PAF’s regular participations in international exercises like the Red Flag, Green Flag in United States, Anatolian Eagle in Turkey, Falcon’s meet in Jordan, Al Saqoor in Saudi Arabia, and Eagle exercises with China and how they contribute in building the fighting potential of the PAF?
We get an opportunity to fly against pilots who have a lot of flying hours on one type of aircraft, although their tactical skills are not as well matched vis-a-vis PAF pilots. Nonetheless, cross-training is always a good exercise to hone the skills of young pilots. Our pilots always look forward to making their mark against some of the best aircraft in the skies.
Q13: Have you been part of any combat engagements during your service with the PAF?
We did extensive Combat Air Patrols during the Afghan War between 1985-1988. Once I had a short engagement with four intruding fighters when they foolishly turned in front of our pair and were going to be easy kills for me and my wingman; lucky for the Afghans, they reached the border and we were pulled back by our ground radar, as per the prevailing rules of engagement. Those were exciting moments, and at least I got a taste of adrenalin!
Q14: What is the future of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in the PAF in regards to the production and deployment of major systems like Shahpar UAV and Burraq UCAV? - How do UAS play their part in anti terror and counter insurgency operations in PAF?
UAVs are ideal platforms for gathering real-time actionable intelligence. Their long sortie duration (due to the pilot being out of the loop) and low operating cost are features that cannot be ignored. Additionally, armed UAVs can take out human targets like terrorist leadership as soon as they emerge and are confirmed to be of interest for decapitation. PAF sees the UAVs to be useful platforms and is considerably advanced in their indigenous production.
Q15: As we move towards the end, I would like to ask a couple of personal questions. It’s a widely held view that Air Commodore (R) Kaiser Tufail, should have made it to the Air Chief Marshal,owing to your bright commanding track record. Many years on, since you have retired we are interested in knowing why did you choose to retire early?
I had a great time in the PAF while it lasted. I got my dream come true, having flown virtually all fighters and trainers of my time. I am also proud of having served my country with honour. What more can one ask for? I think it was a great privilege which makes me very happy when I look back, Air Marshal or not. As for leaving the service, once you get bypassed, it is only dignified to ease out gracefully, which I did.
Q16: Your blog Aeronaut is an excellent goldmine of information on air warfare and the history of air combat in PAF. Many of your fans and followers like myself have always wondered if we are going to see a new book from you which separates the myths from reality, and tells the stories of PAF that have been long ignored. Is it a possibility that we might see a written account of your service and experiences with PAF anytime in the future?
My first book, ‘Great Air Battles of Pakistan Air Force’ is already there on Aeronaut. Most of the contents of my forthcoming book, ‘Indo-Pak Air War 1971’ are also there on the blog. As for my own experiences, I would have loved to write about them if I had some achievements in war. Since I do not have much to my credit by way of heroics in battle, I think there is no need to blow one’s trumpet while having done a routine peacetime job.
In the end I would like to extend our sincerest thank you for your time and knowledge that you shared with our audience today, we hope to speak to you again.
This Interview was prepared and conducted by defence.pk Administrator @Aeronaut through a team effort.
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