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Interviews Thread


Apr 24, 2007
INTERVIEW : Shaheen Foundation to expand footprint in aviation sector

Air Vice Marshal (r) M Ikramullah Bhatti, MD, Shaheen Foundation

By Shabbir Sarwar

Daily Times: When did you join the air force?
M Ikramullah Bhatti: I joined the air force in 1967 when I entered PAF Public School, Sargodha which was the gateway to entering air force and becoming a pilot. I had joined air force at a very young age.

DT: What inspired you to join air force?
MIB: I guess like all young boys of that time, the 1965 war was the one that inspired me. I was 11-year-old at that time, a very impressionable age. The exploits and legendary feats of valour and combat skill of the PAF pilots motivated me to pursue this career.

DT: When did you actually join as a cadet?
MIB: I joined as a cadet in 1972, just after finishing Fsc at PAF Public School Sragodha and a few months after the Pakistan and India war.

DT: Where was your first assignment?
MIB: My first assignment in the PAF was of course as a flight cadet. PAF used to have an outfit called Initial Training Wing (ITW) at Lower Topa next to Murree where we used to have our primary physical training where they would turn young boys into soldiers and then we would move to Risalpur after one year, where they would again train us into pilots and officers and so it was in May 1975 that I graduated as a pilot and an officer of PAF.

DT: 1975, ’76, ’77 and ’78 were peaceful years but ’79 was when the Russia and Afghanistan conflict started, did you see or take any action?
MIB: Well, I didn’t fire a shot but I did come close to it on few occasions. However, even before the Afghan conflict an important task of PAF has always been to defend the aerial boundaries of the country and for that we had to remain alert 24 hours and in my younger days I got assigned on those duties very often when there would be unidentified aircraft in Pakistani airspace or coming close to our borders from the other side. We would be alerted and would go up in the air headed for the border. The Afghan crisis or conflict did have situations and occasions where Afghan pilots or even Russian pilots intruded our airspace and they had to be countered because they would attempt to attack our villages located at the border.

Very often PAF was called upon to rush to those places and defend our territory and our people on the ground and it did lead to a few air battles, which PAF did engage in and shoot down a couple of Afghan aircraft, only when they had intruded well into our airspace.

We had very stringent rules of engagement because it was not a declared war and we could only engage those aircraft that had crossed into our territory.

Our rules said that we should only open fire at them when we are sure that the debris would fall in our own territory and we should not cross the border or fire across it. This rule reduced the opportunities of combat to quite an extent. I did come close to it a few times but actually didn’t get the opportunity to engage in combat.

DT: When did you retire from the air force?
MIB: I was in the air force
from 1975 to 2007 so that’s about 32 years.

DT: Now you continue to serve the people of the air force in different capacity. You head the Shaheen Foundation. Tell us a bit about the Shaheen Foundation.
MIB: Shaheen Foundation came into existence in 1977. While we had Fauji Foundation looking after all the three services, PAF thought that if it had a dedicated organisation of its own it could better serve its cause and people. Hence they approached the government at that time and got the clearance to set up an organisation of its own.

DT: Does Shaheen Foundation support only the retired air force personnel?
MIB: The foundation supports air force personnel, both serving and retired, and their children. It does two things, firstly it gives them employment opportunities because air force people retire at a very young age. On the average the retirement age is around 43-44 years so people are experienced and able bodied, and because of the limited opportunities in the country they are left without a job so it was thought to create a foundation that could run business, commercial and industrial ventures where we could create employment opportunities. Secondly, they could generate profits by which air force could give stipends and scholarships or even medical assistance, financial assistance in adversity to the people, basically those who are retired and may be in some cases even serving, who could not be supported or helped through the government funds.

DT: This is a very noble cause and you are doing this job. Tell us a little about Shaheen Airport Services, Shaheen Airlines, Shaheen Insurance and your other businesses like real estate ventures.
MIB: Shaheen Foundation at this time has around 26 different business units which generate profits for us or create employment opportunities. Our biggest venture is Shaheen Airport Services that was launched in 1982. This year we are celebrating its 30thanniversary; it is the mainstay of the foundation in terms of human resource and it also generates maximum revenues and employment opportunities for us. Other than that we have entered into real estate project in which we have right now engaged into two residential colonies; one in Peshawar and the other in Islamabad and then we also have gotten into developing big real estate structures in the shape of plazas in Karachi and Lahore. The Shaheen Complex in Karachi was completed in 1984 and the Shaheen Complex in Lahore was inaugurated three years ago. These two are our flagships in this sector and we use them for corporate rental purposes. They give us very secure revenue each year and reasonable employment opportunities also. We can engage 50-60 people who perform different roles; essentially for maintenance and management of the buildings, including security. We do hire certain professionals such as those relating to finance, customer relations and marketing etc these are skill sets that are not available within the air force.

DT: You have sold Shaheen Airlines but you do have Air Eagle!
MIB: Yes, we do have Air Eagle, which at one time was part of Shaheen Airlines. When we created Shaheen Airlines we also created Shaheen Air Cargo, which is now renamed as Air Eagle. Air Eagle is essentially a charter airline. While we have sold off Shaheen Airlines for its own reasons because we could not generate enough profits from it. However, we always retained this thought in our mind that having aviation as our core competency, the portfolio of Shaheen Foundation must have an air line. While Air Eagle and Shaheen Airport Services do give us a foothold in aviation sector we have to go back and have an airline of our own, this is something we live with and this we, InshaAllah, hope to achieve.

DT: Tell us a bit about Shaheen Insurance.
MIB: Shaheen Insurance is a company that we created in 1996 and very soon First Capital and Hollard of South Africa joined us and it has been doing well ever since. It has grown, its portfolio has enlarged and its paid up capital has increased. While our South African partner is intending to exit, we feel that First Capital is a significant partner within the company and all their business know how, experience and exposure in related businesses will continue to benefit the company. We feel that there is a great synergy between the two organisations and with each other’s confidence and support the company certainly has all the potential to reach new heights.

DT: Which one is your favourite out of all the 26 businesses?
MIB: Well, of course logically speaking the one, which is earning us maximum revenue should remain favourite, but I like to focus on those companies, which are not performing well and I like to keep them favourite till they can perform and I can pick another one to work on.

DT: I like to move away from the business end of your life and just talk a little about your personal life, your family and your children. Tell us a little about them.
MIB: I got married in 1980 and we have two children - a daughter and a son. My daughter got married five years ago and we have a grandson. My son has completed his telecom engineering degree and worked for Alcatel, but now has moved to Telenor. My son lives with us and my daughter lives with her husband in London. She visits us regularly every year and they are planning to move to Dubai, then they will be closer to us and we would be able to see them more often. I live in Islamabad with my family that includes my mother, my wife and my son and Alhamdulillah we are very happy and content with our life.

DT: Please tell us what are your future plans for the organisation?
MIB: The long term prospects of the country are indeed very promising. However, the prevailing business environment is not very conducive. Sustainability and growth are therefore quite challenging. At the moment organisational restructuring and HR vitalisation are taking our attention. Notwithstanding this, our focus remains on turning around some of our businesses, which are not doing as well as the others and we have even closed one for the same reason. Then we have plans to expand our footprint in the aviation sector, we are considering to expand the capability of Air Eagle, enter into aviation training including flying. In this regard a low-cost carrier has always remained a thought. Real estate is another sector which we think has been good for us and we would like to expand our footprint over there as well, either on our own or in a joint venture with a credible partner. Then our insurance company is another area which we like to consolidate and expand. We are even considering to enter into financial sector and we even have proposals for a bank and an investment company, which we are deliberating on. ***



New Recruit

Mar 13, 2012
at the rate of: Air Cdre (R) Sattar Alvi interview.
They are great, but such kind of broad mentality and brotherhood especially on official level we never listen and seen from Arabs for us.


Aug 30, 2010
United Kingdom
Friday, February 01, 2013 - Like all progressive air forces, PAF (Pakistan Air Force) too
conducts various exercises and war games, besides training for conducting night and day offensive and defensive air operations. The enhancement of operational preparedness of PAF’s combat units is an ongoing task, which is incorporated through
training in applied tactics, planning and execution of exercises at various levels. “Saffron Bandit” is a triennial command level exercise, which was first conceived in 1994. Since
then, five such exercises have been conducted, with each session being reviewed and
refined to not only incorporate fresh developments but also take cognizance of the
latest threat environment. Currently PAF is involved in the sixth sequel of “Saffron Bandit”, which commenced on
22nd October 2012. The whole exercise is spread over six to seven months. The exercise is planned to culminate on 27 April 2013. It is aimed at standardizing the tactics and provide near-realistic ‘Role Oriented’ training to PAF combat crew in a controlled
environment, with the exposure of integrating combat support elements in
synchronization with modern concepts and emerging tactical scenarios. Presently the Surface Attack Phase of the second cycle is in progress. The Chief of Army
Staff and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) have separately visited the
exercise area and been briefed regarding the concept and conduct of the exercise. A
unique feature of the “Saffron Bandit” under progress is that all the modern weapon
systems and capabilities of PAF as well as the Army’s Air Aviation and Air Defence
System are operating under one umbrella for the first time orchestrating modern tactical environment. State-of-the-art data links and communication systems have been
integrated, along with the employment of beyond visual range weapons as well as
standoff capabilities operating under the umbrella of electronic warfare, are being
activated. The CJCSC was afforded the opportunity to fly in an AEW&C Aircraft to observe the
complexities of aerial warfare and the professional handling and employment of
integrated air and ground combat elements by the aircrew. Simultaneously, Air Chief
Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, set a personal
example by actively participating in the exercise and examining the war preparedness
of PAF Combat Squadrons, flying an F-16 Block 52. Overwhelmed by the experience of flying on board the SAAB 2000 aircraft fitted with the Erieye Airborne Radar, the CJCSC
while interacting with the participants after the mission, stated: “The opportunity to
interact with the skilled Air Warriors and to practically fly with them in Exercise Saffron
Bandit has afforded me an insight into the high quality of training standards maintained
by the PAF. This Exercise, with the mandate of providing exposure and training to PAF’s Combat Crew in near-realistic environment, certainly serves well for enhancing war
preparedness in the hi-tech scenario of aerial warfare. It is heartening to see PAF
stepping into the future with its newly acquired capabilities and emerging concepts of
employment.” Keeping up with the emerging challenges, PAF has come a long way in operating in
tandem with the Pakistan Army in tackling with the miscreants in the war on terror. The current “Saffron Bandit” has incorporated anti militant operations and practicing
effect based operations through precision weapons. The aim is to familiarize
participants with different tactical aspects of the anti-terror operations in support of the
national military effort. The training exercise focuses on tactical level peculiarities of kinetic engagement of militant targets using precision ordinance, with special emphasis
on avoiding collateral damage. The Air Defence Environment has not only been
enhanced but taken a step into the future with the employment of airborne early
warning and control platforms as well as the use of both active and passive sensors
including UAVs. Learning from the experience of the allied forces’ operations in the ongoing war in
Afghanistan and recently concluded war in Iraq, PAF has ventured into a new
dimension of “combat search and rescue” for the first time through this “Saffron Bandit”
exercise. The aim is to validate the concept and efficacy of “combat search and rescue”
operations with the assistance of Pak Army aviation. The timely search and ultimate
rescue of soldiers and men, requiring assistance and extraction from hostile conditions, even in the face of enemy fire is essential for the confidence and morale of own troops. In accordance with prescribed practice, each training cycle commences with classroom lectures on combat related topics to consolidate academic knowledge of the combat crew before commencing the flying operations, which are conducted in two phases i.e.
air superiority and surface attack phase. The degree of difficulty in flying missions
progressively increases in scope and complexity, so that a complete threat scenario is
simulated towards the final stages of each cycle. In order to accrue maximum benefit
from this comprehensive exercise effort, an all-inclusive analysis and feedback
mechanism in the form of an ‘Analysis Cell’ to bisect the exercise continuously thoroughly in order to remain focused in the exercise pursuits, remains active. Whereas
realism is essential in any military exercise and near realistic scenarios are created, the
parameters of safety are also essential. The planners of “Saffron Bandit” ensure this
essential aspect. Thorough analysis of the exercise enables the PAF Think Tank to not only critically evaluate PAF’s combat readiness but also recommend future course of
action in terms of tactical employment. PAF remains cognizant of the possibility that any future conflict in the region will be
short and intense, characterized by overwhelming employment of air power. PAF thus
has to maintain its cutting edge to meet any future threat to the utmost of its
capabilities. “Saffron Bandit” provides this opportunity in a wholesome manner. —The author, a retired PAF Group Captain, served as Air & Naval attaché at Riyadh and is
currently a columnist, analyst



Jan 18, 2009
Tea with Air Marshal (r) Shahid Lateef

This month, I had the pleasure to meet Air Marshal (r) Shahid Lateef over a cup of tea. He retired as the Vice Chief of Air Staff of Pakistan Air Force in April, 2009. My discussion with him was very casual and lasted for more than 2 hours starting from his personal life to professional one. Before I share snap of discussion I had with him, it would be great idea to know about his profile.

He was commissioned in the General Duties (Pilot) Branch on April 7, 1974. He earned top honours by winning the coveted Sword of Honour for his overall best performance and earning a gold medal for securing first position in academics, on graduation from the PAF Academy, Risalpur. He has served as a fighter pilot in various squadrons and was among the pioneers of F-16 induction programme in the PAF in 80s. During his career, he has commanded a fighter squadron, a fighter wing and an operational air base. He has held various key staff appointments at the Air Headquarters. He has been associated with the development and production of the most prestigious JF-17 Thunder aircraft for nearly eight years, initially as deputy chief project director and then as chief project director for five years. He has served as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Operations) and was also deputed in the Abu Dhabi Air Force for three years. His career is a text book example of success as he was a topper throughout his service and remains very inspiring for the officers of Pakistan Air Force. He holds wealth of knowledge and likes to impart it with the youth of Pakistan.

In conversation with Turkish pilots
Q: Tell us something about your background.
I am an ordinary bloke who belongs to Sahiwal which is a developing city of Punjab. I did my basic studies from Government High School before I went to Lower Topa PAF Public School. Life was very peaceful and simple in Sahiwal and so were the people. I enjoyed different stages of my young age as long as I lived there.

Q: How do you spend your time after retirement and what are your hobbies?
I am living a disciplined life. I read, write, play golf and spend quality time with my family. This all makes my day a busy day. Furthermore, I make appearances on TV to talk about national issues confronted by us and respond with possible and logical solutions. I believe this is the best I can do as a retired person now with an aim to serve the national cause which is my passion and spread awareness among masses to enable them to serve the country to the best of their potential.

Q: When did you realize your capability of being a fighter pilot?
When you compete against the best, it is only then that the best starts coming out of you. Definitely, Lower Topa was the place where I really felt I had started to appreciate and recognize my talent. That is where I began to know what were my strengths and qualities. However, it was not untill I started flying in Risalpur that I was convinced of a bright career in this field.

Q: In public schools, a lot of emphasis is given on physical sports vis-a-vis academics? How were you as a student and as a sportsman?
While I was in matric at Lower Topa, it was closed down and we were all shifted to PAF Public School Sargodha where I did my F.Sc. Alhamdulillah, I was very balanced in studies and sports. I was the best athlete and used to play all out-door games. I created Inter Cadet College Sports record in 100 meters (10.8 seconds which was very close to the national record in those times). The National Sports Board wanted to take me into the national team but my principal stopped me saying that sports career would be a risky business and might end in a short period. As a matter of fact, he wanted to see me rise in my professional career which he could visualize based on my current performance though I was tempted and wanted to join the national athletics team.

I was also made the house captain in my final year at PAF College Sargodha. For initial physical and academic training after selection in the GD(P) branch, cadets had to go to ITW (Initial Training Wing) established at Lower Topa. I was the top appointment holder at Lower Topa. It was called ‘Wing under Officer’. I also earned the highest appointment of ‘Wing under Officer’ in the final term at PAF Academy Risalpur.

Q: This is very rare that someone becomes ‘Wing under officer’ at Lower Topa and at Risalpur as well because cadets are judged over different set of qualities at both places. How did you attain this distinction?
I have a strong faith in Almighty Allah who has always been very kind to me. A firm belief in divine help and prayers of my elders coupled with hard work and focused attention towards clearly defined objectives was all that helped me achieve my goals.

Q: You were among the first six pilots who tried hands at the Falcon. How do you define your experience with the F-16?
Flying it first for Pakistan was an honor. There is no doubt that F-16 is the best aircraft Lockheed Martin ever produced. This statement can be supported by the number of units sold all over the world. It was designed so well that it retains its attraction even today. Though Lockheed Martin has now produced F-22 and JSF and there are Rafale and Eurofighter but yet when you look at the F-16, it stands out. It is a design which immediately appeals. Therefore, Lockheed keeps on making necessary changes in order to keep its variants competitive with the contemporary hi-tech aircraft. I loved flying it then and would love to fly it again.

Air Marshal A Rashid Sheikh greeting pilot of 1st F-16 to land in Pakistan

Q: What does it take to be an excellent flier in the Air force?
In the air force, you need to have flying aptitude along with good academic record. Flying is all about your motor skills – the coordination between the mind and the limbs. You may not be a genius or studious person yet you can be a very good flier. On the other hand, flying is not just stick and throttle. There is science behind it. The more you understand, the better you will fly. Attention to details and prompt response to situations confronted in the air differentiate you from others.

Q: You were writing very frequently in the newspaper The News. Why don’t we see your columns so frequent these days?
I was writing almost every fortnightly. But now I have dropped down to a month for the simple reason that I don’t write for the sake of writing. I write when I am convinced I should write on something. I pen down my thoughts whenever there is a significant change or development and when I feel I should give my opinion which somehow is not coming forth from others. In short, I am driven by the urge and don’t force myself into this activity.

Q: There has been a rumor that newly acquired F-16 fleet is handicapped and cannot be used against conventional enemy of Pakistan. Is there any contractual binding upon PAF?
It is not true. These aircraft are not handicapped in any way and can be used aggressively against anyone. The only restriction is that the F-16 fleet has to be kept at a separate place and shouldn’t be mixed with the Chinese aircraft. The rationale was that the Americans wanted to protect their technology. Therefore, we maintain a separate base for Block 50/52.

Q: India is aggressively working on acquisition of aircraft carriers these days. This will certainly create power imbalance in the region. Do you see any potential role of maintaining aircraft carrier in PAF?
I don’t think we need one. Carrier is an offensive platform which you use to demonstrate your power against the enemy. We have no offensive designs against India or for that matter against any other country. Our posture has always been defensive/counter offensive. The objective is very clear and that is to protect our country against any aggression. Instead of a carrier, we should have solid defense, potent counter offensive capability, and credible nuclear deterrence in order to make the cost of any adventurism against us unbearable for the enemy.

Q: This year has really been unfortunate as PAF met around 7-8 air crashes in just 7-8 months. Is there anything wrong with current flight safety policy or its implementation?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with our flight safety policy. As a matter of fact, Pakistan Air Force has a very tight flight safety mechanism in place but we need to acknowledge that Mirages are over 4 decades old fighter jets which should have been grounded by now. We would have avoided many crashes if we had not overstretched the use of these planes. I’m happy that the leadership of air force is not sleeping over this issue and has been aggressively working on phasing out Mirages by 2014-2015. As per my knowledge, each aircraft which is going to be retired will be replaced with JF-17 Thunder.

Q: One out of your achievements has been successful development and delivery of JF-17 aircraft. What makes it a potent fighter plane and can it be considered as mainstay of PAF in the future?
F-16 is the most advanced plane we have in PAF. However, it can be paralyzed by Americans as a result of any friction with them as we saw during the sanctions imposed in early 90s. Therefore, we really need to have an indigenous aircraft which fits in the modern category.

JF-17 Thunder is an answer to address such apprehensions and future challenges. It is a beautifully designed aircraft with great capabilities like long range radar, comprehensive avionics package, BVR capability, glass cockpit and many other features we mostly see in the latest generation aircraft. It is to be noted that the aircraft is designed on US specs in order to make it attractive in the international market. It has a modern avionics architecture that is compatible with the universal standards, allowing easy integration of any Western equipment with plug-and-play capability. The aircraft is designed on a block-building concept that permits regular upgrades like the F-16 in order to keep the platform relevant with time and in sync with the changing technology.

Air power is likely to play a decisive role in any future conflict as witnessed over the last two decades. Against this background, the JF-17 occupies a central position in the defence of our country and will remain the backbone and life line of the PAF.

Q: We haven’t seen any progress on ending of drone attacks in Pakistan. What is your take on it as a fighter pilot and what should be the role of government to end such attacks?
First we need to remember that the moment you violate the territorial boundaries of a country, it is considered to be an act of war. From a fighter pilot’s perspective, shooting a drone is no difficult task. You don’t need a very hi-fi sophisticated technology. It can be shot down easily by the PAF in case the government shows the will to do so. Anyways, drone attacks are a menace and they must be stopped.

Q: When was the last time you flew a jet and do you miss strapping up in the cockpit?
My last flying was as the Base Commander. It’s been over 12 years now I haven’t flown anything. It is natural that a true fighter pilot would always miss flying in his life.

Q: Do you visit your native city frequently?
I usually go there to attend family events. Since, I am settled in a different city now and that place is too far, therefore, I hardly get time to go there. Personally, I would want Sahiwal to be a developed city with proper infrastructure. Though, it has been given the status of a ‘Division’ in recent years but I feel a lot has to be done to improve the associated facilities. The biggest handicap is the non-availability of an airport there. For faster mobility, there should be one in my opinion.

Q: In your life, you have seen so much and you have done so much for the country. Do you plan to write a biography?
I very much want to write for posterity and have been trying to find time but the national matters which have been deteriorating rather rapidly continue to capture my mind. Every time I sit to scribble a few things, there is some development at the national level that takes precedence. Nonetheless, I will write to express my rich experience of life inshAllah.

Q: What is your message to the nation and to Armed Forces of Pakistan?
When I look around, I feel that the moral values have taken a hit. The merit has been pushed to the back seat. There has to be a radical change, otherwise whatever our elders had earned and established for us, we would lose it. Therefore, my message is to develop and protect a solid character. Those who deserve must rise. Those who use other means to gain benefits must be detected. This is the only way our institutions and society can develop itself to achieve excellence. Nepotism must be curbed in all forms and professionalism should be the main criteria for promotions and appointments.


In conversation with Retd. Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed

My quest to explore and learn about Pakistan Air Force keeps me moving from one place to another. On 8th of January 2012, I had the pleasure to meet Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed at his place in Lahore. He is a retired four-star general and a career Air Officer in the Pakistan Air Force who commanded, as the chief of air staff of the Pakistan Air Force, from 2006 to 2009.The sitting was informal, a question and answer arrangement over a cup of tea which turned out to be a great dialogue and persuaded me to make it available in written form for all the avid readers of flying and enthusiasts of PAF.

Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed in his ceremonial dress
This is 2nd interview of my compilation “In Dialogue with Aviators of Pakistan Air Force’. Before I reveal the discussion we had, I believe it’s a good idea to know about caliber of Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed. He did his high school from PAF Public School Sargodha where he belonged to 15th entry (767 – Fury House). Then, he joined PAF Academy, Risalpur in 1969 and was commissioned in Pakistan Air Force as a fighter pilot in 15 April 1972 in the 53rd GD(P) Course. He holds Best Pilot Trophy – which is remarkable achievement and a symbol of pride for any fighter pilot. The air marshal is a graduate of Turkish Air War College and National Defence College, Islamabad from where he did his masters in Strategic Studies. He has flown the American F-86 Sabre and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft and other aircraft of Chinese and French origin in the PAF inventory.

With his Best Pilot Trophy - 1972
How do you look at the last 10 years of your service where you had to manage critical positions?
During the last 10 years of my service, I occupied very vital and key positions like Deputy Chief of Air Staff for Administration (DCAS- Admin), then Deputy Chief of Air Staff for Operations followed by Vice Chief of Air Staff and finally the Chief of Air Staff. While these posts kept me extensively very busy from morning till mid-night. They also provided me the much needed experience and an opportunity to contribute towards the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in a whole hearted manner.

Change of the rank to Air Chief Marshal by Air Chief Marshal (r) Kaleem Saadat
How was your first day as an Air Chief of PAF?
Since I had already prepared my blueprint for the three years of PAF command, in my opening address (which lasted over 90 minutes) I spelt out detailed outline of the plan to re-engineer the PAF for the challenges of 21st century.

Change of Command
What were your strengths as a professional?
Alhamdulillah, being well experienced in the fields of operations, administration, logistics, budget accounts, office and general automation related to IT and HR management, I felt highly qualified to the assignment of Chief of Air Staff (CAS), PAF. Added to this was my total devotion and determination to bring results on ground. I felt lucky to get an opportunity for realizing my dreams for the PAF.

With Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah
How air warfare of today is different from the conventional air combat method?
Due to perpetual process of evolution, the air warfare today stands to be vastly different from the previous 2 to 3 decades. Network-centric capability and long range weapons (as indeed the hi-tech weapon systems) have made air warfare very complex and demanding. The envelop in the air has spread to scores of square kilometers and sharp response from the pilots are now a much needed virtue.

What was your motto as an Air Chief? What have been your major achievements?
It was ‘lean-efficient and hard hitting’ PAF fully responsive to the needs of the new millennium. What it meant was ‘doing more with less’ and being ‘second to none’, as the Quaid-e-Azam desired from the PAF.

My majority achievements were procurement of much needed new hardware (Hi-Tech Aeroplanes) like: the F-16 C/D, Advanced Real-time Digital Reconnaissance Capability, smart and highly effective weapons including long range missiles, AWACS, Aerial Re-fuelers, co-production of JF-17 Thunder in Kamara with China, Networking the advanced and modernized Air Defense System, new and potent Surface to Air missiles, UAVs, New Generation Network for Integrating Airborne and ground based sensors, induction and modernization of existing transport aircraft fleet. Other achievements were building of new housing units for PAF personnel, re-building record number of PAF runways and operating surfaces, building newer and efficient medical facilities, improving the children education system, enhancing welfare activities, improving and revising innovative war plans, improving the overall efficiency of the PAF working by man-hours utilization etc. Logistics support and its inventory management was brought at par with the latest IT trends. Accounting and budgeting was brought truly online and fully transparent and automated. Overall working environment was made nearly paper-free.

With his bird F-16
There is naturally huge power distance in Forces. It has indeed its pluses and negatives. Did you do anything particular to reduce power distance between ranks in your tenure?
PAF has traditionally provided itself in being a very open service. We communicate freely between the highest and the lowest ranks. I followed the policy to its utmost. It really helped me change the mind-set of PAF personnel and that meant greater achievability of my objectives.

You had a vision which was to transform legacy systems of PAF into most advanced computerized systems. To what an extent you feel accomplished when you look back?
In the words of a colleague, I was ‘able to re-engineer the PAF’. I think this says it all.

How did the idea come into your mind of automating Air Force where people are considered averse to change? Was it challenging to transform systems and human recourses there?
Being an Aquarian, I’m designed to be ahead of my age. As such I learnt a great deal from my experience of dealing with the Americans, the Chinese and the Europeans. This gave me a firm foundation of my vision for the PAF in 21st century. I am proud of the fact that I was able to achieve a very high degree of success in my endeavors to bring about a change and land the PAF in 21st century.

What was the most essential thing to change before increasing pace of transformation in PAF?
To change the mind-set of PAF personnel so they could move on the desired path voluntarily and willingly.

Without having any Information Technology background, do you think it was your right decision to start changing things at a massive level with great pace?
I had a counsel from a large spectrum of IT specialists; both in public and private sector. The vision was mine, solutions were theirs. I think I was able to achieve a lot.

What should be the ‘must have’ traits of any officer who wishes to lead the Air Force efficiently?
Vision, dedication and loyalty to the service and the country and the determination to face all odds/ risks and head towards one’s objective with single minded devotion.

Why was the need felt to modernize Pakistan Air Force in 2006 and not before?
PAF’s real induction of hardware and concepts was back in early 1980s with the induction of F-16s. It had been over two and half decades and we badly needed change; all over.

25 years is quite a lengthy time. Any system or technology can go obsolete during such a long time. Why didn’t your predecessors feel the need before?
All of my predecessors realized the urgent requirements for change. However, due to various political and internationally imposed restrictions and constraints, they could not really bring about a big change. Allah was kind to bless me with an opportunity (post 9/11) and I had the will and the courage to exploit this opportunity.

In flight suit with F-16 Fighting Falcon
How do you see value system in today’s Pakistan? Are the values intact as a nation?
Our value system (as a nation) has undergone a huge change – not for the better. We have not invested enough in education and human resource development. Hence, we are paying the price through our noses.

The western media has misrepresented and misinterpreted Islam as a religion after 9/11. What do you want to say about that?
In fact, we have ourselves to blame for the West misinterpreting Islam. Were we to truly practice Islam as a code of life, the West would not be able to levy such criticism. We need some soul searching.

What is your definition of Islamic State?
Where we truly and practically follow the golden teachings of Islam and not just give it a lip-service.

Why did you change the ranks knowing the fact that it had long history before and had become part of tradition of the air force?
Wearing of rank badges is to make distinction between one another. Our older ranks were not doing that job well. Our new rank badges are distinct and clear – obviating the possibility of mix-up.

After Mumbai attacks, there was standoff between Pakistani and Indian forces. How did you preempt the war in 2008?
Post Mumbai attack of 2008, the Indian civil and military leadership was all prepared to carry out ‘surgical strike’. I order the PAF on high air defense alert around the clock. This led to preventing a war between the two nations. I think this was timely and bold decision.

Now you are retired. How do you spend time? Do you use social media sites like Facebook to kill time?
Frankly, I don’t find time to spend on social media sites. Along with my youngest son, I’m engaged in Chicken Farming thereby contributing to the society and keeping ourselves productively busy.

A memorable picture with Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed
What is your take on the current leadership of PAF in the shape of Rao Qamar Suleman as an Air Chief?
Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman had a huge task of assimilating and operationalizing all of the newer equipment that we had contracted during my tenure of office. I think he is doing a good job and continuing to move PAF forward as a 21st century hard hitting and efficient service.

Do you miss flying?
No (chuckles). I have done enough flying. I even flew fighter jets as an Air Chief.

What is your message to the nation and the PAF?
Selfless devotion should be the way forward for my nation and the PAF.



Jan 18, 2009

A Dialogue with an Aviator Kaiser Tufail
I have always had special corner for Pakistan Air Force in my heart. Visiting Air Bases, meeting people there, capturing fighter jets, observing things and learning about life in PAF have been part of my quest since long.

On June 19, 2011, I met Retd. Air Cmdre Kaiser Tufail at his place in Lahore. Meeting him was a lifetime experience since I was so much fond of him due to his commendable career attachment with PAF and his master piece “Great Air Battles of Pakistan Air Force”. Kaiser Tufail is one gem of a person I have ever come across in my life. He is well known for his caliber, demeanor, and intellect which made him ‘top notch’ fighter pilot of PAF. I would never forget a cup of coffee and three hours long discussion with him which quenched my thirst for knowing more and more about fighter aircrafts and the way GDPs do wonders in the air.

(In olive-green coverall with F-16 patch on the shoulder)

On August 22, 2011, we concluded our discussion in the form of an interview which is going to be part of my 1st publication “In Dialogue with Aviators of Pakistan Air Force”. I’m sharing the conversation with you and hope it will entice you.

Faisal Riaz: Tell us something about yourself.

Kaiser Tufail: Pre-partition, my family belonged to East Punjab. After partition, with my father being in the Army, we roamed all over Pakistan’s cantonments. I joined Cadet College Hasanabdal in 1967 and soon after completing my FSc, joined the PAF in 1973.

Faisal Riaz: Did you have other family members in Pakistan Armed Forces?

Kaiser Tufail: My father was in the Army and he retired as a Lt Col. A cousin of mine was in the PAF. My wife’s father and several of her uncles were also in the PAF. One of her uncles, Gp Capt Ata Rabbani was the Quaid’s ADC. He is presently 93 years old and is the oldest living PAF officer.

Faisal Riaz: You were doing MBBS from King Edward Medical College before joining Pakistan Air Force. What made you leave MBBS and run for a soldier’s life?

Kaiser Tufail: I stayed in KEMC for a few months before I got selected in the PAF. In our days pre-meds could join as a flier. I thought a fighter pilot’s career was very thrilling. Now when I look back, I think it was one of the best decisions I made in my life.

Faisal Riaz: Did you ever think of being a pilot in your childhood like most of the kids?

Kaiser Tufail: Yes, I was crazy about fighters from childhood. Later, a couple of my classfellows, whose fathers were in the PAF, used to tell me about the exciting life of fighter pilots; that was more than enough to charge me up for a flying career. Also, I had seen my father in uniform and later, I myself wore one as an Abdalian for five years, so it was my desire to wear it in later life too. I was lucky to be in the blues for over three decades thereafter.

Faisal Riaz: Did you ever idealize any one as GDP who ultimately motivated you to end up being a fighter pilot?

Kaiser Tufail: I had never met a fighter pilot in real life before I joined the PAF. However, tales about M M Alam and other PAF heroes were quite inspiring for a young mind and I was no exception.

(With a great commander Shaheed Mushaf Ali Mir - Air Chief Marshal)

Faisal Riaz: Rigorous training and fitness are prerequisites of flying a jet fighter. What else it requires to be a successful combat pilot?

Kaiser Tufail: Motivation, dedication, discipline and a controllably aggressive nature.

Faisal Riaz: You went to Risalpur Academy for your training. How was the time and routine there?

Kaiser Tufail: In our time, we first spent an year at the Initial Training Wing at Lower Topa, which was essentially a ‘boot camp’. After that it was one and a half year’s training at Risalpur which included studies in aeronautics and two six-monthly courses in flying. It was all very hectic, life was mechanical and very disciplined, but it was fun to go through the mill with all the course-mates. One was never sure about making flying grades and it was sad to see one’s colleagues weeded out. The suspension rate was fairly high. So the one’s who got their wings were very lucky. All in all, I think the Academy training prepared us for the ups and downs in life, turned us into disciplined guys who knew how to organise themselves. Personally, I am for compulsory military service for every able-bodied male in Pakistan.

Faisal Riaz: What is the most memorable event of your academy days?

Kaiser Tufail: Of course our graduation day when we passed out as Pilot Officers and got our wings. Before that, I fondly recall the day I got my first solo (6 Feb 1974) on the MFI-17 Mushaak. While taxiing back after the sortie, I used a kutcha taxi track that had turned into slush after rains. The aircraft got stuck in the mud and I had to rev up power to get out of the mess; in the process the whole aircraft got plastered with mud. It was quite a sight as everyone watched the strange aircraft taxiing back. My instructor made me wash the aircraft with fire buckets, before dousing me with the traditional bucketful for the first solo.

Faisal Riaz: How did you prepare for your first flight? Were you nervous?

Kaiser Tufail: No. It was just routine. The Mushaak was a toy really, compared to the Harvard T6-G that we had been initially introduced to.

Faisal Riaz: Which fighter planes did you fly and which one you enjoyed the most? Any particular reason.

Kaiser Tufail: Of the fighters, I have flown the F-6 (MiG-19), Mirage-5, F-16A/B, Mirage F-1E (with Qatari Air Force), F-7 (MiG-21) and F-7MG (flight testing in China). I enjoyed flying the Mirage-5 the most as we had much more freedom compared to a somewhat stifling atmosphere in the F-16 squadrons due to over-supervision. Also, our squadron commander in 8 Squadron (Mirages), late Air Cdre Khalid Sattar, was one of the best officers I have had the opportunity to work with.

(The best man with the best flying machine F-16)

Faisal Riaz: Which aircraft was easy going and which was the most challenging?

Kaiser Tufail: The Mushaak was naturally the easiest, while the T-6G was the most difficult amongst trainers. Amongst fighters, Mirage F-E was the easiest while the F-6 was the most challenging.

Faisal Riaz: Please share your experience about pushing yourself against your limits by pulling G forces. How does it feel going subsonic and supersonic?

Kaiser Tufail: Pulling Gs is not a very enjoyable thing. 4-5Gs is routine stuff in air combat and one can manage it without much difficulty. Beyond that, it can be back-breaking, quite literally. If the G onset rate is not well controlled, one can black out easily, but on conventional fighters (hydro-mechanical controls) things remain under control, but on F-16, with its fly-by-wire controls, one can almost fly it by ‘thought control’ so to speak. I mean the control response is instantaneous (at the speed of light) and one can easily pull more Gs than desired. Besides the aircraft can go upto 9Gs, so a 165-lb pilot actually weighs 1,500-lbs. It is not hard to see why your muscles should be in good shape for such extreme flying. It won’t be an overstatement to state that a fighter pilot is supposed to be the fittest creature on earth!

As for going supersonic, you hardly come to know about it. There is a flick of the airspeed needle at around Mach 0.98 and suddenly it goes past Mach 1. So there you are, no noise, nothing. In older fighters like the F-6, the controls used to become very heavy, but in properly designed modern fighters its like swishing over silk.

Faisal Riaz: Did you have the chance to fly as “test pilot” for any new entrant plane to PAF inventory? How was it different from duties of operational pilot?

Kaiser Tufail: I, along with another colleague, flew the F-7MG in China. This is the double delta variant of the F-7. It had to be flown in certain profiles, alongwith testing its speed and G limits, take-off and landing performance, engine response at extremes, aerobatics, etc. It was fun racing the aircraft to its limits. I particularly enjoyed bringing the aircraft to a dead stop after a landing within 1,000 ft on one occasion. It was a much improved aircraft over the F-7. The aircraft got a very favourable report (“poor man’s F-16”) from us and I was glad that the PAF eventually procured it.

Faisal Riaz: What can you tell us about the mix between open air flight testing and simulation testing?

Kaiser Tufail: I was never a qualified test pilot. Till the JF-17, we did not have qualified test pilots in the PAF, so it was always air testing by the seat-of-the-pants. Being from the old school, I am not a fan of simulators in fighter flying.

Faisal Riaz: You had the chance to evaluate F7-MG before its induction to PAF inventory. How was your experience with Chinese counterparts?

Kaiser Tufail: As for Chinese, they were very co-operative, for good reasons as they had to sell this aircraft! Language was an issue in flying as we had to go through an interpreter, two-way on every call. Luckily, we never got into a difficult situation. Their PLAAF test pilots who were attached to the factory, had a lot of on-type experience. However, the kind of flying that we do in the PAF was, for the most part, very different from what the Chinese are used to. In brief, we in the PAF know well how to take an aircraft to its limits.

Faisal Riaz: How is F7-MG different from F7-P and F7-PG? Which one is better?

Kaiser Tufail: Basically, the F-7MG (PG in the PAF) is an aerodynamic improvement over the F-7. For a layman, suffice to say that the MG/PG has better lift generating capability. As a result, the take-off and landing distances are shorter, turning performance is better and acceleration is faster.

(With Chinese for F7-MG)

Faisal Riaz: You flew almost all sorts of Mirages. Tell us something about your experience with this flying machine and flexibilities it offers to a fighter pilot.

Kaiser Tufail: The Mirage III/5 is a very versatile aircraft, truly multi-role. In the PAF, it has served us as an interceptor, ground attack aircraft, maritime attack aircraft and a recce aircraft. It can carry a wide variety of weapons. Having said that, it has to be remembered that it is an old design that first flew in 1956. Besides, the delta planform has its own limitations and is much ‘draggier’ than conventional swept wings. The Mirage F-1, on the other hand, has a swept wing and is a vastly improved aircraft, but unfortunately it could not compete with the even more advanced Mirage 2000 that became its contemporary. Our Mirage-III/5 have served the PAF very well. As I stated earlier, I have enjoyed flying this machine more than any other. The high points have included several Mach 2 flights during air test missions, as well as some hairy flying at 80 knots during deep-stalled air combat. In between these two extremes, it has been sheer fun all the way.

(With his ride - Mirage)

Faisal Riaz: You were one of very few fortunate GDPs who had the honor to fly Fighting Falcon F-16 in mid 80s. How was the experience? How do you comment on its performance?

Kaiser Tufail: Even though I first flew the F-16 in 1984, by today’s standards, the F-16 continues to be a very advanced aircraft. It can be easily modified with newer avionics as the design has plenty of growth potential. Since the airframe life is as much as three times the conventional Western aircraft, the PAF will surely fly it for a long time to come. I think it is one of the finest fighters ever built, and one of the most capable for its value. Conceptually, fly-by-wire, bubble canopy, side stick controller, aft centre of gravity, tilting seat and a most powerful engine --- all of these features still seem so very futuristic, despite having been around for three decades now.

Faisal Riaz: Which technology is the most reliable – French, US, Russian or Chinese?

Kaiser Tufail: Of course US. No match.

Faisal Riaz: If you were to rate combat aircrafts, how would you rate PAF inventory – plane wise?

Kaiser Tufail: F-16C, F-16A, JF-17, Mirage-III/5, F-7PG and F-7 in that order.

Faisal Riaz: How is PAF of today different from PAF of your era?

Kaiser Tufail: It has much more modern and capable aircraft. The officers are more professional. However, I think we had more initiative and were bolder, if you will. Now, there is over-supervision which is not always a good thing, no matter that the assets are very costly and have to be taken care of with greater vigilance.

Faisal Riaz: What would you say if you have to define a fighter pilot’s life in one sentence?

Kaiser Tufail: Better than anything I can imagine.

Faisal Riaz: What are top 5 skills needed for a fighter pilot?

Kaiser Tufail: Analytical thinking, hand-mind coordination, sharp reflexes, steel nerves and a good sense of humour!

Faisal Riaz: You had the chance to meet two living legends of PAF – Saif ul Azam and MM Aalam. In your book “Great Air Battles of Pakistan Air Force” there are chapters describing heroic and gallant of these two gentlemen who were stars during war of 1965 against India and 1967 against Israel. How did you find them as individuals?

Kaiser Tufail: Humble. Humble to the core. Very simple. But then age does that to most!!

Faisal Riaz: Since you are retired now. What do you do to keep yourself busy?

Kaiser Tufail: After flying, my second passion was reading and writing. So now, I have all the time in the world to indulge in these.

Faisal Riaz: What else entices you other than flying? Your hobbies?

Kaiser Tufail: I love the outdoors and enjoy adventure and travel. For the past one year, I have been doing a series of articles in the newspapers on adventure/travel/exploration of unique places that I have visited in Pakistan and abroad. Other interests include planetary science and space, archaeology, bird watching and genetics. I am planning scuba diving and aim to get an advanced certification, hopefully. I never miss thinking about fighter flying of yester years, which has also become a hobby now!

Faisal Riaz: Your first book was well received by readers. Are you working on any new project to pen air force?

Kaiser Tufail: Yes, I am working on “Air War – 1971”. It is about half done.

Faisal Riaz: When is it hitting book shelves in the market?

Kaiser Tufail: Hopefully, I should be able to give it to the publishers some time early next year and it should be on the bookstands late next year.

Faisal Riaz: Why didn’t you opt for commercial flying?

Kaiser Tufail: I thought I’d upset myself trying to adjust to something I wasn’t cut out for. Only fighters enthralled me … and still do.

Faisal Riaz: Did you ever have the luck to face any interceptor or go as intruder? If yes, how was it?

Kaiser Tufail: We flew a lot of air defence patrols on F-16s over the Western border between 1985-88 when the Soviets were getting a lick by the Mujahideen. That was the closest I have been to flying operational missions. Only once did we get into a head-to-head pass with four Su-22s, but lucky for those blokes, we had to turn back as we were right over the border and there was no guarantee that their wreckage would fall inside Pakistan.

Faisal Riaz: What is your take on capability of Indian Air Force if compared to Pakistan?

Kaiser Tufail: I’d be lying if I said IAF would be a walkover.

Faisal Riaz: What is your opinion about Su-30 MKI and Mig-29? Is F-16 better?

Kaiser Tufail: As I said earlier, Russian aircraft are no match for the F-16, especially the F-16C and the under-modification F-16A (MLU).

(Recent Pic - after retirement)

Faisal Riaz: How do you rate medium multirole combat aircraft – JF17 Thunder? Is it better than Indian Tejas (LCA)?

Kaiser Tufail: By and large, both have similar capabilities. So far, both aircraft do not have the final avionics and EW suite, so the comparison might be pre-mature. However, the Tejas design is a highly swept delta, with a very low aspect ratio, which translates into very high drag rise during manoeuvring. In fact it has the lowest aspect ratio of any jet fighter ever designed, which is rather unusual. I’d be happy to tire it out in combat anytime, if I was sitting in a Thunder.

Faisal Riaz: Why PAF has been a failure so far to stop US drones? Is it incompetent for such minor surgical strikes or there are other reasons?

Kaiser Tufail: Address this question to the Prime Minister, please.

Faisal Riaz: What is your message to readers of this interview; serving fighter pilots of PAF and people of Pakistan?

Kaiser Tufail: Just do what you think is right, no matter what the consequences. You can never go wrong on this one. It will be good for you, good for the family, good for the PAF and good for the country.

Stick & Throttle


Jan 18, 2009
Interview: Air Commodore Khalid Mehmood, Deputy Chief Project Director, JF-17 Programme, Pakistan Air Force

Tomislav Mesaric, Zagreb

In Pakistan the JF-17 combat aircraft programme, conducted as a joint venture with China, is a matter of national pride, with the aircraft on track to become the backbone of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) for decades to come.

"Two years ago we had only one JF-17 Squadron with 20 aircraft, but now we have two," said Air Commodore Khalid Mehmood, who was posted to become the programme's deputy director when the aircraft was still on the drawing board.

"Both squadrons are completely operational, while one of the two squadrons has two roles: conversion and operational training. We are about to raise the third squadron, but we still haven't decided which one that will be," said Air Cdre Khalid. "Around 40 JF-17s are flying at the moment, with the last few from Block I in the final stages of assembly.

"Production started with a small batch of aircraft we used for maturity of the production processes and for the assessment of operational capability and fine tuning of the aircraft," he said. "Based on that and the capability enhancements we introduced in the Block I, we will start with production of Block II. The difference will mostly be in capabilities, production technologies, avionics and some maintenance facilitation for the ground crew.

"As far as manufacturing tempo is concerned," noted the air commodore, "we are matching the retirement tempo of the air force's older types, regulating the induction of JF-17s according to the air force's demands."

Regarding the JF-17's operational capabilities, IHS Jane's understands that the PAF has the necessary sources codes to integrate weapons onto the aircraft. Air Cdre Khalid confirmed that the PAF has the capability for weapons integration, stating: "We can buy a weapon on the free market and integrate it on the JF-17 on our own and in-country. We have a team of flight test engineers and pilots that form the flight test group as a separate unit."

When the JF-17 first entered service it only flew with PL-5EII within-visual-range air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and fuel tanks, but the aircraft is now flying with SD-10 beyond-visual-range AAMs, C-802A anti-ship missiles, an electronic warfare pod and several types of general-purpose and precision-guided bombs. "We are using a combination of weapons of different origins," the air commodore noted.

When it comes to the maintenance the PAF has operational (O), intermediate (I) and depot (D) levels, just like in the West. "Since the JF-17 is a new aircraft we haven't performed any D-level maintenance on it yet, but we are in a process of establishing a component D-level capability," he said.

Regarding the JF-17's RD-93 powerplant, Air Cdre Khalid vouched for it being a very robust engine. "We have flown it for 7,000 hours without a problem," he said.

While the Chinese are reportedly working on a replacement powerplant for the JF-17, the PAF seems happy that solid agreements are in place between the Chinese and original Russian designers of the RD-93 to guarantee the supply of enough engines for its needs.

At the moment the JF-17 is already qualified for quick-reaction alert duty. "We have IFF on board, so we can go straight up and shoot at the enemy," said Air Cdre Khalid. In standard configuration the JF-17 carries two PL-5EII missiles, two SD-10 missiles and two or three fuel tanks. "The aircraft could have the capability to carry four SD-10 missiles," he noted, "but we decided to pursue the present configuration. The digital weapon interface is on all hard points, which gives us a lot of flexibility for weapons carriage."

So far the JF-17 has not seen real combat, but the type has participated in a number of exercises. "We have very good experience in dissimilar combat against different types of aircraft in multi-bogey environments," said the air commodore.

During air combat manoeuvres with the People's Liberation Army Air Force, for example, PAF JF-17s were pitched against Chinese Su-27s in a number of scenarios and reportedly achieved favourable results.

With regard to flight training, Air Cdre Khalid said the JF-17 is "very easy to fly - even easier than the F-16 - so pilot training is not heavily dependent upon a two-seat version. We designed it with the concept that we will have a good simulator. The Chinese have extensive experience with simulators, so we decided to go with them. However, if some customer wants the two-seat version, plans for production are at a very advanced stage.

"For international sales we have joint sales and marketing with our Chinese friends. It doesn't necessarily mean we all have to sit together on every meeting, but the Chinese side will always know what we are negotiating and we will always know what they are negotiating," noted the air commodore, adding that he saw co-operation on the programme between the two countries as being "exemplary".

"The first thing the new customer has to do is to decide which configuration of the aircraft they want," said Air Cdre Khalid. "The JF-17 is produced in Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra, so we can provide everything from manufacturing to documentation and even help with the induction of the aircraft into operational service."

The Home of JF 17

By Raja G Mujtaba
Mar 18, 2013

My visit to PAC Kamra is split into two parts. First when I visited the place, Air Marshal Sohail Gul, the Chairman of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) had to leave at a very short notice for an emergent meeting at the ministry thus no meeting with him could take place. Without meeting the Chairman the visit was inconclusive, many questions remained unanswered. It was nice of him to have me invited again and we had some open heart discussions on PAC and its future plans and capabilities.

The complex houses multi-faceted facilities manufacturing which enable it to undertake complete manufacture of new aircraft, aircraft structure overhaul, Aircraft component overhaul, Aircraft Engine overhaul, Radar & Avionics manufacture, maintenance and overhaul etc. To cater for the needs of all the tasks, PAC has laid down stringent standards to meet the international requirements of the aviation industry.

It is also manufacturing fuel tanks for external stowage. The glass canopies that are not only required for the new aircraft but also need to be replaced often as a routine maintenance are a frequent need of the Air Force. To meet this demand, a unit has been installed to produce single piece glass canopies for various aircrafts in PAF inventory. It is also being envisioned that after acquisition of this technology PAC Kamra would also be able to meet export orders from other countries around the world. The theme of the PAC Chairman is to make PAC an earning organization for Pakistan by exporting its products and services to other countries.

It was my first meeting ever with the Air Marshal who left a strong impression about the potential and future of PAC. I found Sohail Gul to be a go getter and man whose drives are charged to expand the activities of PAC beyond horizons.

Going back over history of PAC, In 1971 which is 5 years after the induction of F-6 in PAF, it was realized that these Aircraft have started falling due for overhaul and in the absence of a pertinent facility in country they are to be sent to China for overhaul which is resulting in huge amounts of spending in terms of foreign exchange and is generating undesirable down time for every Aircraft. With this background the commanders of Pakistan Air Force at that time decided to embark on the colossal task of creating an indigenous overhauling facility for the F6 fleet. After successful negotiations with the OEM at China and Chinese government establishment of this facility was started at Kamra under the supervision of Chinese experts. This facility was completed and first Aircraft was rolled out in 1974.Having gained the experience of overhauling of a Chinese origin Aircraft it was decided that a similar facility for the next biggest fleet of Pakistan Air Force i-e; French origin Mirages be established. After necessary homework in this direction the project for establishing Mirage Rebuild Factory (MRF) was started in 1974 and it successfully rolled out the first Mirage in 1980.Having gained the experience of overhauling both Chinese and Western origin Aircraft natural course of action was to enter the arena of Aircraft Manufacturing. As a humble beginning a light trainer Aircraft MFI-17 was selected for indigenous Manufacturing. As the Manufacturing facility demanded higher degree of core capability yet another factory had to be initiated for accommodating this area. After successful negotiation with the Swedish OEM Aircraft Manufacturing Factory was started in 1975 which produced the first indigenous MFI-17 (Mushak) in 1983.

This rebuild experience of F 6 later became very helpful in rebuilding of other aircraft like Mirages, A5, and F7s etc. This also paved way for Engine Rebuild Factory where all the engines on PAF inventory are being rebuilt with some locally manufactured parts. This effort has not only saved valuable foreign exchange but also provided the experience and the skills to start building complete aircraft.

Also due to the safety factor for the pilots, all the F6s and the subsequent Chinese aircraft were given Martin Baker (MB) ejection system.

After the rebuild factories, when sufficient skills were acquired, the next logical step was to start manufacturing small aircraft; this opportunity was provided by the Americans when they cancelled the lease of their T 37s basic jet trainers at the PAF Academy Risalpur. Looking for a more affordable, dependable and with no strings the Pakistan Air Force looked towards Sweden and selected MFI -17

Mushshak, originally known as Safari was acquired from SAAB of Sweden that took to the air for a maiden flight in 1971. It was powered by a single 200 hp Avco Lycoming IO-360-A1B6 air-cooled 4-cylinder engine having a one twin-blade propeller. This was also used for reconnaissance, observation and transportation purposes; there are attachment points (hard points) under the wings for extra fuel tanks and weapons, allowing the aircraft to perform ground attack sorties.

Mushshak is based on Swedish technology that Pakistan acquired in the 80s. Initially, it was powered by a single 200 hp Avco Lycoming IO-360-A1B6 air-cooled 4-cylinder engine having a one twin-blade propeller. After having acquired it, PAC embarked on its development of the MFI-395 in 1995 by upgrading the MFI-17 with an advanced 260 hp engine, electrical instruments, dual flight control systems and a Bendix RSA fuel injection system. Now it is upgraded and designated as Super Mushshak.

Initially, Pakistan took delivery of 18 Supporters, while 92 were assembled locally and thereafter rest were built locally by PAC. It was renamed as Mushshak (Proficient) when came into Pakistan’s service. In 1981, Pakistan acquired sole manufacturing rights of the Supporter.

After successful negotiation with the Swedish OEM Aircraft Manufacturing Factory was started in 1975 which produced the first indigenous MFI-17 (Mushak) in 1983.

It has a forward swept shoulder wing that improves all-round visibility for the pilots. The wings were forward-swept only to maintain correct center of gravity. The military version was called MFI-17 and later, the Saab Supporter when the project was taken over by Saab.

Fitted with an American 260 hp engine, cockpit air-conditioning, electrical instruments, and electric/manual elevator and rudder trim, the aircraft has been developed to meet FAR part 23 certification in categories normal, utility and aerobatics.

Talking to Col Tariq Shah Khan, a retired army aviator is all praise for this aircraft. According to him, it is one of the safest and best in its class that can take over 5 Gs when going into aerobatics. Incidentally he was the first from the army to fly it and ferry it to an army base at Dhamial, Rawalpindi. He further elaborated that it has a spacious side by side cockpit giving good contact between the pilot and the co-pilot/observer or between the student and the instructor. The Super Mushshak meets the requirements of a modern primary training syllabus and is an ideal basic trainer for basic flight training and instrument flying.

Over 300 Mushahak have been produced both for Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Army. A sizeable number have been exported also to countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Oman, and South Africa have acquired it from Pakistan to meet their training requirements. Now serious negotiations are on with a number of countries that Air Marshal Sohail Gul hopes to seal the deal soon.

Another encouraging feature is that Flying clubs within Pakistan that were previously flying American trainers are switching to Mashshak for its performance and cost effectiveness. This has further improved the chances of marketing Mushshak in the private sector.

Talking to Air Marshal Sohail Gul, who said it can be stretched to carry 2 or more passengers but only if there are substantial orders to recover the development cost; also it would need FAA approvals to sell them to international buyers. But it is feasible provided some extensive marketing is done with prototypes or computer designed replicas and graphics to show to the potential buyers. Even within Pakistan, there can be substantial demand in the private sector for charter duties. But it sure warrants a full-fledged study.If a couple of seats could be added by stretching it, small operators like oil and gas companies could charter it for their off route duties. Perhaps with proper marketing maybe foreign markets can also be acquired.

Today PAC in collaboration with China has jointly produced 2 jet aircraft namely K 8 and JF 17. Former is an advanced trainer that has replaced ageing T 33s but can also be employed as a basic trainer. If needed, K 8 can also perform military missions of a limited nature. JF 17 is a high tech modern jet fighter that can be compared with any 4th generation fighters of today. Mushshak is a light basic trained that is being manufactured with complete PAC efforts again to international standards and serving many air forces of the world. This too has hard points to carry arms and ammunition and extra fuel with extra tanks.

During the talk with Air Marshal Gul, my special interest was in S/VTOL aircraft as they are going to replace the conventional fighter jets. The US along with the NATO allies, has made heavy investments in developing F 35. Presently though it is going through some design and manufacturing defect phase but it has come to stay. It has become the front line multi role aircraft with its various versions to suit and meet different operational needs. The US is not the only country to be making it; the UK was the first to introduce this technology with the launch of Sea Harriers. These aircraft played a significant role in Falkland war.

Today more countries have embarked upon this technology in producing state of the art aircraft. Russia was the first to produce supersonic VTOL with exceptional performance envelop. YAK 41 was fully tested and ready for mass production had to be shelved for after the demise of Soviet Union, Russia did not have sufficient funds to go into production.

Today China, Brazil and some more countries are investing in A/VTOL technology. Today it’s about time that in order to stay abreast with latest trends, PAC will also need to venture into S/VTOL technology; of course the first demand has to come from home in that if future war doctrines are evaluated, maybe besides the PAF, Pakistan Navy may also have a need for such aircraft.

When asked if PAC after the JF 17 experience was in a position to undertake S/VTOL venture. Air Marshal Gul was very confident and realistic that yes, with the involvement of another country in the project it could be undertaken and hopefully PAC would live up to its milestone of designing and flying within 30 months.

The most significant being the C130 Allison T 56-A-15 engines and Mirage III Attar engines. On these engines, PAC has acquired the required level of quality assurance that even other countries are sending their equipment for overhauls and rebuilding. Now this has become a source of earning for Pakistan.

These days the most talked about aircraft is no other than JF-17, a joint production with the Chinese CATIC. Here PAC stunned the world when it designed the aircraft that took to the air within 30 months, it’s an amazing feat. Normal standards are that it takes at least 10 years to design and fly an aircraft. This is a minimum time for any aircraft anywhere in the world. Having achieved this, PAC has set tough standards for itself. Now the nation and the world at large expect similar feats in future also. Chairman was quite positive that given the task, similar feats would be performed again.

Now JF 17 is fully operational, the weapon system integration including the air to air weaponry has been completed. With that, Block 1 of JF 17 is also being completed. There has been some delay for reasons undisclosed but now Block 2 is ready to be launched sometimes this year.

Talking on its exports, presently PAC is meeting the demand of PAF, after that they have all the plans to export it to the world. Some hot queries are coming in but the production capacity remains the hindrance. To that it was suggested, PAC should expand the building capacity and double it. The additional capacity can be dedicated for foreign orders only.

JF 17 has participated in several airshows in different countries where it was highly praised for its agility, maneuverability and its looks. In every show it came out to be a jewel in the sky.

JF 17 is powered by Russian RD 93 engine that’s one of the most efficient engines. It has a thrust of 18,000 lbs and very fuel efficient. RD 93 is also powering the latest Russian aircraft like MIG 35. Therefore this engine has a future based on which, PAC can also develop more aircraft.

Pakistan through a contract has the right to manufacture 58% of the aircraft, so far it has achieved about 35%, and remaining 23% is also expected to be achieved by mid-2014. If achieved, it would be a major accomplishment not only for PAC but for Pakistan also.

Co-production and joint marketing with China is the true spirit behind the JF-17.but in a way both Pakistan and China are in competition also to sell and market it. On this Air Marshal Gul said that even if CATIC sells it, PAC would get its 58% component share irrespective therefore it’s a win win situation either way.

The pace of development of complex definitely provides a silver lining on the horizon for the people of Pakistan that In the near future Pakistan would stand out as a country which can produce future generation Fighter Aircraft indigenously. Like Mirage stood to build the economy of France, JF 17 has the same potential for Pakistan but no time must be lost.

I went around various factories and shops of PAC, the equipment that was deployed to manufacture the aircraft and its spares not only for PAF but even for companies like Boeing of Seattle was very encouraging. I was specially shown the shop where parts for Boeing 777 and 787, the Dreamliner were being manufactured. To be able to supply parts for such state of the art technology aircraft, speaks for itself. The Chairman said that they are also in negotiations with Airbus for supply of similar parts for their aircraft. If it gets through, the technological base, more so in metallurgy would attain some level that would be useful in so many other ways both for PAC and other industries in the country.

The pace of development of complex definitely provides a silver lining on the horizon for the people of Pakistan that In the near future Pakistan would stand out as a country which can produce future generation Fighter Aircraft indigenously.

Pakistan lacks in metallurgy, it needs to invest heavily in its development. It would not be possible without private sector participation. The Research and Development (R & D), PAC is no exception to that. The overall shortfall also affects PAC adversely. The government needs to encourage R&D through private sector. For that it must provide incentive to the private sector in the shape of tax relief. The industrial and business community must invest 5% of its revenue in R&D through respective Chambers of Commerce and Industries. These funds must be passed on to the universities for carrying out R&D that can be later handed over to the private sector for manufacturing as mass production.

PAC is encouraging the private sector to participate in its efforts but quality control remains the basic hurdle. However if proper guidance and incentives are provided to the private entrepreneurs, this would not only reduce the capital costs of PAC in building the facilities but would gear up the private sector for participation into projects of national importance. One institution that could be engaged by PAC and other defence industries of Pakistan is the University of Gujrat. It has the latest equipped Industrial Designing School within its campus already meeting the demands of industry in Sialkot, Gujranwala and Lahore etc.

At the moment, PAC has some surplus capacity to manufacture high precision parts and electronics/avionics. This capacity must be fully utilized to the maximum potential. Some machines if do no produce a minimum quantity; they remain very expensive to produce the components. As a word of appreciation, PAC is producing note pads, ‘Takhti’ that have become quite popular in the market. These are affordable and cater for all the needs of a student or as a standby arrangement for any executive.

Today PAC stands at a threshold to take on more challenges and emerge in the world as a designer and builder of efficient and cost effective aircraft. It must develop small passenger aircraft both single and twin engine. Hopefully Pakistan itself is an emerging market but the vision must go beyond. In this field, maybe Pakistan also learn from Brazil that is the fourth largest manufacturer of aircraft in the world.

A Visit to Pakistan Aeronautical Complex | Opinion Maker


Jan 18, 2009
PAF needs to be extra vigilant in region: Air chief
PAF needs to be extra vigilant in region: Air chief

ISLAMABAD- Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt Thursday said the regional environment demanded an ever vigilant role for Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Addressing the combat crew at the closing ceremony of PAF Triennial Command level Air Exercise Saffron Bandit at an operational air base, he said that presently, in the face of security challenges, PAF preparedness and response had to be precise and expeditious.
“It is through the rigorous training imparted by exercises like Saffron Bandit that we look forward to maintain the cutting edge of the PAF”, he added.
The Chief of the Air Staff, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said, “We are a peace-loving nation, but fully prepared to defend the integrity and solidarity of our motherland.”
Accentuating the nature of the aerial warfare, the Air Chief emphasized, “Combat training in the PAF is maintained at the highest pedestal of realism and responsiveness to meet the contemporary challenges.”

“You must utilize the experiences gained in the best possible manner,” he added.
He said, “While our quest to modernize PAF continues, we must remember that our generation will have to work even harder and offer greater sacrifices than the earlier ones”.
The Air Chief further said, “The nature of aerial warfare continues to rise in complexity under a time compressed environment, and PAF being a professional outfit is totally focused on it.
As the nation pins high hopes in Pak Fazaia, and we must never let it down”.
The eight-month long Exercise Saffron Bandit commenced in October, 2012. It is conducted in PAF since 1994.
This time, the environment was unique where modern capabilities of PAF were operating under one umbrella for the first time. Pak Army Aviation and Army Air Defence were also deployed for undertaking the exercise.
The prime objective of the exercise was to excel in the air combat capability with focus on Air Power employment in any future conflict.
The hallmark of the exercise was the participation of JF-17 Thunders in the concluding cycle of exercise Saffron Bandit for the first time.
The combat crew from various operational squadrons comprising F-7PGs, Mirages, F-16s and JF-17 Thunders participated in the exercise.
JF-17 Thunders operated in multiple configurations alongside other PAF platforms in various combat/support roles which encompassed all spheres of aerial warfare in near war like environments.


Jan 18, 2009
RAWALPINDI Aug 7 (APP): Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is all set to attain capability of keeping its indigenously developed fighter aircraft “JF 17 (Thunder) airborne for longer haul, said Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt. “The ground tests have been very successful and I am satisfied. The air to air refueling test) will be done successfully by end of this summer, Air Chief Marshal Butt said in an interview with Defence Jane’s Weekly. Pakistan had acquired the refueling air tankers Ilyushin II-78 from Ukraine back in 2010 and these are being synchronized with Medium to High Tech multi-role aircraft thus giving it the capability to remain in air for longer durations.

ACM Butt pointed out that the capability would enhance the marketability of the aircraft which at present is being monitored by a number countries due to its cost effectiveness and other valuable abilities.

“The JF-17 program has been an excellent project to pursue, owing to the hard work put in by our engineers, technicians and test pilots,” ACM Butt said. “All this would also not have been possible without the cooperation of China.”

He said JF-17 with an attractive price tag has the capability of carrying a variety of weapons, it is a true multirole aircraft and in time “would become the PAF’s mainstay.”
He said that PAF has plan to induct around 200 t0 250 JF-17 aircraft.

Answering a question regarding the induction of Chinese-built ZDK-03 airborne early warning aircraft - a platform, ACM Butt said it has so far shown that its capabilities work well over sea, plains and mountainous terrain.”

In the meantime, he said PAF has also been maintaining and operating a sizeable fleet of US F-16 aircraft for a considerable time and its air/ground crew are fairly experienced in handling the weapon system.

“The PAF received its last batch of F-16s in the recent past and even now there are US Congressional clearances available for the provision of additional F-16 aircraft. Owing to requirements/compulsions in the future, there exists a possibility of acquisition of additional F-16 aircraft, he said.

To a query regarding purchase of High Tech aircraft, he said options are still open.
ACM Butt said that PAF must prepare for a two-front situation in view of its combat role in Pakistan’s anti- terrorism campaign, which has evolved since the 9/11 attacks on the US, in addition to its historic adversarial role as India’s neighbor.

“Airpower can achieve much more in a short span of time if employed with clear understanding of its capabilities,” he said. “Its inherent flexibility has enabled nation states to successfully deter their conventional adversaries as well as prosecute irregular outfits. We are now faced with a definite two-front scenario: external as well as internal. While we have always prepared for the traditional and ominous external threat, the new predicament did take us a while to get up to speed with, but ...we did manage to learn on the job quickly and are very efficiently supporting our ground troops in all their operations against militants/terrorists.”


Jan 21, 2013
October 14th, 2013

Air Chief Marshal Tahrir Rafiqui Butt, an F-16 pilot, has been the Pakistan Air Force Chief of Air Staff since March 2012. Via PAF

AFD’s Alan Warnes talks exclusively to Pakistan Air Force Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tahrir Rafiqui Butt who has given few interviews since entering office in March 2012.

PAKISTAN HAS suffered its own unique share of troubles in recent years and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) found itself involved in trying to solve many of them. “The regional geo-political situation, on-going operations in north-west Pakistan and internal security have been the biggest challenges for the PAF since I came to office in March 2012” the Chief told me.

Maintaining the required operational readiness must be quite a burden on the PAF’s ageing resources, but the PAF CAS appears to have risen to these challenges. The PAF has also been engaging with ‘miscreants’ in the Federally Administered Territorial Areas (FATA) while supporting many agencies on the ground. “We have a heightened alert status and operations are regularly being flown in support of sister services [like the Pakistan Army]/Law Enforcement Agencies and security of PAF installations” he adds.

Having all this to contend with would challenge any air force and while Pakistan has not suffered such catastrophic floods as it did in 2010-11, torrential rains inundated large portions of lower Punjab and Sindh Provinces in 2012, which once again saw the PAF provide timely relief efforts as ACM Tahrir tells me, “The PAF has always been at the forefront in relief and rehabilitation work during natural disasters in Pakistan, like floods and earthquakes. In 2011 and 2012, PAF conducted rescue and relief operations to augment efforts by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). We evacuated over 23,700 people in distress and transported goods in excess of 9,550 tonnes to flood or rain affected areas across Pakistan.”

One of the ten Alouette IIIs donated by Switzerland in the aftermath of the 2010 floods is seen here receiving attention at Peshawar. During Pakistan’s regular humanitarian crisis’, the helicopters are operated on behalf of the National Disaster Management Authority, as the big badge on the side depicts. AFD-Alan Warnes

Alouette Ills and Mi-17s played a big part in these operations. Justifiably proud of the PAF helicopter fleet and the tireless work put in, that does not always get the recognition it deserves, the CAS reeled off an impressive set of statistics, “During 2010, PAF Alouette III helicopters flew 479 relief sorties transporting over 50 tonnes of cargo and PAF Mi-171s flew 374 relief sorties transporting 49 tonnes of loads. After massive floods that year, the Swiss Government subsequently donated ten ex Swiss Air Force Alouette IIIs to the PAF. In 2011, the former Swiss helicopters were put to good use, flying 115 relief sorties that transported 80 tonnes of relief goods while Ml-171 flew 50 sorties transporting 44 tonnes. In 2012 the PAF Alouette Ill fleet flew 120 missions and the Ml-171s did 40 flights transporting 92 tons of relief aid.

At the same time, the PAF’s ageing fighter inventory is causing another challenge, as the PAF CAS acknowledges, “Obsolescence and the need to replace some of our fighter fleet (particularly the F-7P and Mirage aircraft) is a concern. AFHQ remains engaged in finding viable solutions to major challenges, but this doesn’t deter the flying squadron implementing training programmes of newly inducted capabilities.”

All the fighter squadrons have deployed to Mushaf Air Base for Exercise Saffron Bandit over the past 18 months, allows personnel to refresh their current skills and learn new ones in the new range the PAF has developed nearby.

Resplendent in Pakistan’s national colour is JF-17 is 09-111 flown by the ‘Black Spiders’ at Peshawar. The JF-17 will play a big part in the PAF’s future strategy. AFD-Alan Warnes

The JF-17 has been flying since March 2007 and it is no mean feat setting up aircraft production in a country where there is no real aerospace labour force or experience. The Chief continues, “JF-17 production is moving along smoothly. Planned milestones have been achieved to date and a total of 45 JF-17s have been inducted. These aircraft are operating in two squadrons and a flight test unit established at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra. Plans to raise a third squadron this year is on but is being held back due to some administrative compulsions. Whenever these are addressed one of F-7 squadrons will be replaced”.

“The F-7Ps and Mirages are expected to be replaced by the JF-17 Thunder over time, with production of JF-17 Block 1 almost complete, they should start replacing F-7Ps this year.” CAS adds.

The first 50 Block I aircraft are the basic version, but production of the next batch of 50 Block IIs is expected soon. These aircraft will include new radar upgrades, air to air refuelling probes and more sophisticated weapons. The CAS would not be drawn on when production of these aircraft would commence, preferring just to say, “A lot of activity including activation of the JF-17 Block II has taken place during the past 18 months. Numerous operationalization and training activities have been accomplished. We have also established a centre of excellence (COE) for maintenance requirement of the fleet. The JF-17 participated in Zhuhai Air Show last year and the project received the Aviation Laureate Award for the best collaboration effort, between Pakistan and China. JF-17s will also participate in Dubai Air Show during November”.

A pilot walks down the steps from his cockpit to waiting technicians. This PAF F-16A MLU, seen in June 2012, is one of 41 being upgraded by Turkish Aerospace Industries in Ankara. Half of the aircraft had been completed by early October 2013. AFD-Alan Warnes

PAF modernisation is not all about JF-17s though. The PAF is currently taking delivery of 41 F-16 Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) jets under Peace Drive II, which also includes several aircraft going through Falcon Up. The first deliveries took place in February 2012 after spending around 18 months at Turkish Aerospace Industries. The modernization is expected to be completed next year. The F-16MLUs will provide Pakistan’s F-16 with a 24 hour day/night capability which is badly needed. Half of them have now been delivered back to the PAF. “The newly upgraded F-16 MLU jets are being operated from Shahbaz Air Base and arrangements are being made for their re-basing to other locations. Other than engine and Conformal Fuel Tanks, the F-16 MLU and F-16C/D Blk-52+ are similar. Both versions have excellent night attack capabilities.”

While the PAF’s focus remains on induction of more JF-17s, it continues to monitor and assess other possible needs. “We continue to evaluate various possibilities of other weapon systems including fighter aircraft. Depending upon the options and availability of funds, some inductions could possibly materialize in the not too distant future”.

Another important development recently is the induction of additional K-8Ps and Excess Defence Article (EDA) T-37s released by the USA in 2011, which has helped in the revision of basic flying training for student pilots. “The K-8Ps and more T-37 aircraft have been great for our training aspirations. It has allowed us to replace the vintage FT-5 jets with modern K-8Ps at No 1 Fighter Conversion Unit (FCU) for pilots destined to fly F-7Ps, Mirages, F-16s or JF-17s. Based on future requirements, the PAF over the past three years has increased its aircrew induction. Moreover, inclusion of a flying aptitude test and inclusion of simulator training for K-8, K-8P and T-37 students has substantially increased the value of training, resulting in a higher number of flying graduates, with attrition now being negligible.

Over the past decade the PAF has started to train with more foreign countries, initially in the Exercise Anatolian Eagle with the Turkish Air Force in 2004. Since then their desire to learn has taken them to Red Flag in the USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey and China. “Over the past 16 months we have attended Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2012 in June at Konya, Turkey and the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course (ATLC) at Abu Dhabi, UAE in December 2012. During March 2013, the PAF hosted Indus Viper 2013, an international exercise [at Mushaf] and participated in a tri-lateral exercise at Ta’if, Saudi Arabia in May 2013.

Then in September we flew our fighters to China for Exercise Shaheen II. The PAF may also join ATLC 2013 with participation at Dubai Air Show in November 2013 too.”

PAF and PLAAF personnel pose together during Exercise Shaheen II, held at Hotain in September 2013. Via PAF

The Chief added “As I have already stated on several occasions, the PAF is ready to defend the aerial frontiers of Pakistan under all conditions. For that, we keep our personnel and equipment in a high state of readiness at our Main Operating Bases with proven capability to deploy at short notices. In the past, we have demonstrated our resolve and were ready at short notice to counter any threat.”

He rounded up by saying “Air power is an offensive tool in the hands of any Commander. Historically, PAF has always believed in offensive application for our national defence and the strategy is deeply embedded in our plans for any contingency that we might confront”.

AFD Interview: Pakistan Air Force Chief | AirForces Daily


Nov 21, 2012
So JF-17s production is not prob but prob is administrative like upgrading bases & crew?? :unsure:
Block 2 is having radar upgrade as I said with IFR and minor improvements……:azn:

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