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Military might alone can’t win a war​


In the modern warfare, media and social networking have gained a strategic position. Through these networks, the enemy mind can be controlled. Soft power has made it easier to reach out to a larger audience.​



By Amna Ejaz Rafi​

13 Feb 2022,

In the evolving political theatre, where economic integration, regional connectivity and trans-regionalism are fast emerging as global trends, the phenomenon of war has also expanded to multifarious domains. The battle ground is no more confined to mountain ranges or deserts alone. Similarly, the conventional strength is not the only criteria determining a country’s military prowess.

The security capabilities have moved beyond the physical domain. The armed forces do not rely (entirely) on the physical manoeuvring, rather the technologically empowered war tools are the high data speed processing, robotics, quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber space activities. The escalating impact of a cyber-attack can be devastating, it can cause an industrial collapse and can also paralyse the state machinery. These developments are an outcome of the technological advancements.


In the modern warfare, media and social networking sites have gained a strategic position. Through these networks, the enemy mind can be controlled. Soft power has made it easier to reach out to a larger audience. Technological access is another area which has equipped the countries and the disgruntled elements to further their vested / nefarious agendas. Often, the deprivation in people, based on their ethnic, religious or economic lines, is targeted to provoke resentment. This disturbs internal peace and at times becomes detrimental to a country’s economic growth. Such enemy tactics do not require physical presence of troops. It is the technological prowess which enables the actor to reach out to the audience of target country. The economic damage which it causes is no less to a physical attack led by troops. In extreme cases, the societal resilience is broken and people start perceiving themselves as downtrodden.

Seeing the dynamics of war in the past, there have been instances where the strategic manoeuvring has led to victory. For instance, Germany’s series of attacks on Spain (1936), Poland (1939), Belgium, the Netherlands and France (1940) involved a ‘mobile strategy’. Tanks and aircrafts targeted the enemy lines. The war strategy was coined as ‘Blitzkrieg,’ a lightning attack. In all the encounters, Germany was the defeater. The focus of the lightning attack was on ‘quick fight’ and short duration of war. Due to this strategic foresight, the German economy did not suffer.

These military encounters proved that the strength of economic stability is not only essential in waging a war but also in winning it. While comparing the past warfare strategy with the digital warfare tactics, a lot has changed owing to the technological prowess. However, the basic idea behind the act of war is the same i.e. ‘a knockout blow’. Germany, by employing the Blitzkrieg tactics, caught the enemy states by surprise. The enemy states were simultaneously faced with ground and aerial fronts.


Applying the same principle in today’s era of globalisation and digitisation, states are competing on multiple fronts. New battle fields are open; overt and covert operations are launched to outmanoeuvre the opponent. Psychological impairment as a whole is done through documentaries, dramas and movies whereas specific societal groups are targeted through subversion and other covert means. All this is being done in an organised manner and the play field is a vacuum in the target country created by its weaknesses and unjust practices. This inner weakness is exploited by outside forces to widen the rift within society.

Due to the internal disharmony, the state is not in a position to fight back the adversarial interference from outside. In such a situation, the target country is defeated without a physical attack. Another tactic is to target the enemy’s fragile economic condition. With a weak economy, the country would face political isolation which, in turn, would sow internal discord. In such a scenario, the enemy is disarmed through political isolation and economic sanctions. To counter adversarial tendencies, military preparedness alone is not sufficient; economic strength and diplomatic positioning are equally important. The absence of any of this will weaken a country’s defence and political standing.

Amna Ejaz Rafi is research associate at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute.
 

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Top Fighter Defending Islamabad: First Look at the J-10C in Pakistani Colours​


February-15th-2022


Pakistani Air Force J-10C Fighter


Pakistani Air Force J-10C Fighter

Following confirmation in December 2021 that Pakistan had become the first foreign client for China's J-10C ‘4++ generation’ fighter, the first images of the aircraft in Pakistani colours emerged on February 15.

In December Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed stated that the a full J-10C squadron would be in service in time to participate in the country’s March 23rd Parade, following months of unconfirmed reports that Pakistan had purchased the fighters. Although the J-10C is a lightweight aircraft, it is still considerably heavier than Pakistan's other fighter on order the JF-17 Block 3. Acquired in much greater numbers, the new JF-17 variant has similarly advanced avionics and weaponry to the J-10C but uses a much smaller air frame and weaker engine - meaning it has much lower operational costs and maintenance requirements but is also overall less capable in combat.
The Pakistani Air Force has notably had experience operating alongside the J-10C during joint exercises with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force, which in the past deployed the fighters to Pakistani territory. The fighter is the lightest of three currently being acquired to modernise the Chinese fleet, alongside the heavyweight J-16 and the much heavier fifth generation J-20. There is little dispute that the J-10C will be the most capable fighter in Pakistani service by a considerable margin, and is capable of challenging the most capable fighters in the Indian Air Force including the lightweight Rafale and even the heavyweight Su-30MKI in air to air engagements. As it will enter service before the JF-17 Block 3, it represents Pakistan’s first fighter with AESA radars providing considerably superior reliability, electronic warfare capabilities and situational awareness than any other Pakistani-operated fighter.


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Pakistani Air Force J-10C Fighter

The J-10C is expected to see its first deployments near the country’s borders with neighbouring India, the fighter units of which have retained a strong advantage over Pakistan for decades with the deployment of MiG-29 medium weight fighters from 1985 and later Su-30MKI heavyweights from 2002. The J-10C, and potentially moreso the JF-17 Block 3 due to its greater numbers, will do much to bridge the performance gap particularly as India has not moved ahead with plans to modernise its Su-30 fleet to the latest ‘4++ generation’ standard with new missiles, avionics and sensors. The J-10C’s most notable feature aside from its sensors is its integration of the PL-15 air to air missile, which has a very long range of 200-300km and its own AESA radar for guidance. It also integrates the complementary short ranged PL-10 which can engage targets at very extreme angles. Both are contenders for the top missiles of their kind in the world, and are also used by the JF-17 Block 3 and by China’s fifth generation stealth fighter the J-20.


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J-10C with PL-15 and PL-10 Missiles

Pakistan’s previous top air to air missiles the American AIM-120C purchased for its F-16 fighters in the mid 2000s, and the PL-12 used by older JF-17 variants, had ranges of only around 100km. The Indian Air Force relies on Astra and R-77 missiles with similar ranges, although its new Meteor missiles acquired in small numbers for its Rafale fighters will provide a 200km engagement range.

Pakistan’s acquisition of the J-10C may press India to proceed with plans to modernise its Su-30MKI fleet, integrating the Irbis-E radar or possibly an AESA radar as well as new generations of missiles such as the 200km range K-77M or the 400km range R-37M. Such steps would be key to preventing the balance of power in the air from being strongly swayed towards Pakistan by the J-10C and JF-17 Block 3 acquisitions.

The Pakistani Air Force is expected to acquire 36 JF-17 Block 3 fighters, but may purchase more particularly as its ageing F-16A/B fighters, which are currently its heaviest in service, near the end of their service lives and come in need of replacement.
 

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Indian Navy’s P-8Is Dominate the Indian Ocean

June 13, 2022
by Zaki Khalid




On 29 March 2022, India’s Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Radhakrishnan Hari Kumar, formally commissioned Indian Naval Air Squadron 316 (INAS 316), a.k.a. “The Condors,” at Indian Naval Station (INS) Hansa in Goa.

The INAS 316 is the second Indian Navy aviation squadron to have a dedicated fleet of Boeing P-8I Neptune Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), strategically located in the centre of India’s western seaboard. The first P-8I fleet of eight MPAs was inducted into and operating under INAS 312 (“Albatross”) in the southeastern seaboard overlooking the Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar from Tamil Nadu.

Mainstream media reports shared important excerpts from Hari Kumar’s address, especially the reiteration that India intends to be the “preferred security partner” in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), an extension of its self-proclaimed “net-security provider” status.

In his televised address, the Admiral disclosed that eight Boeing P-8Is that were previously inducted “continue to provide surveillance for joint service missions,” and their combined operational footprint extends “from Malacca, Lombok and Sunda Straits in the east to the southwest Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf in the west”. While it is true that these MPAs were involved in monitoring the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) movement in the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during the 2017 Doklam crisis (acknowledged by Hari Kumar), they were also called in to conduct widespread reconnaissance over the Arabian Sea during the 2019 standoff with Pakistan on Balakot. Thus, these aircraft have been operationally tested in a near-real conflict scenario with Pakistan.


With the completion of a base in Agaléga, which would help remove the blind spot in the southwestern Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy has basically (and rather ironically) formed its own “reverse string of pearls” concept.


The predecessor frontline air squadron of P-8Is maintained by INAS 312 (“Albatross”) was raised in the eastern seaboard but under Southern Naval Command (SNC), strategically positioned to keep tabs on both the Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar while reducing flight time to Andaman & Nicobar Islands; they provide an operational advantage to keep tabs on the PLA Navy vessels during entry from the Pacific. INAS 316, on the other hand, has been raised at Western Naval Command (WNC), which is primarily Pakistan-focused.

If keeping an eye on the broader Western Indian Ocean is the stated objective, it would have been prudent for the Indian Navy to raise INAS 316 at, for example, INS Garuda in Kerala (also under SNC) or on one of the islands in the Lakshadweep. Since Pakistan directly shares both land and maritime borders with India, setting up base in INS Hansa only confirms that the Indian Navy perceives potent maritime threats from a less-equipped Pakistan Navy.

Some would argue that a base in Goa would expend less time and resources to keep tabs on PLA Navy movements in the Arabian Sea, particularly concerns among Indian policymakers that China might establish a “military base” for PLA Navy in Gwadar. This rationale carries little weight since PLA Navy can be monitored and, if necessary, restricted from movements to and from the Indian Ocean via the Pacific Ocean.

In his detailed analysis, Samuel Bashfield examined the undeclared construction of an Indian Navy base in North Agaléga island (part of Mauritius). He notes:

“The most important new infrastructure on the atoll is a 3,000-metre runway, and considerable apron for aircraft. Under construction also are sizable jetty facilities in deeper water, and what looks like barracks and fields which could be used by military personnel.”

[…]
“The outpost at Agaléga will be useful to support the operation of India’s fleet of Boeing P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft.”

[…]
“The vastness of the Indian Ocean means that P-8s and other maritime surveillance aircraft require airfields and refuelling facilities at staging points, which is where facilities like those on North Agaléga island come in.”

Until this facility is completed, the Indian Navy could also benefit from base facilities in the Diego Garcia, a UK-controlled territory in the Indian Ocean which hosts a sizable base for US Navy’s 7th Fleet (US Indo Pacific Command). In April 2019, around the time Pakistan and India were engaged in a military standoff, the Indian Navy’s P-8Is from INAS 312 participated in “cooperative activities” with their American counterparts focused on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training, information sharing, and coordination between naval assets which included MPAs. A pilot from 7th Fleet’s Patrol Squadron 8 stated the goal of these activities was “to further standardise our procedures so we can work more efficiently in future real world operations”. Then VP-8 Commanding Officer added further that the engagement would help in “laying the groundwork for future integration efforts between our Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Forces”.

The Indian Navy has already signed or renewed agreements for logistics and replenishment facilities in Duqm (Oman) and with Japan, the latter leading to options for the use of Japan Self-Defence Force Base in Ambouli (Djibouti). With the completion of a base in Agaléga, which would help remove the blind spot in the southwestern Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy has basically (and rather ironically) formed its own “reverse string of pearls” concept. Members of the Quad and even France would gladly support efforts to place greater reliance on India’s eyes and ears on the Indian Ocean rather than spending billions to do the same.


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Author’s rough estimation of facilities that could be used by Indian Navy MPAs
With the induction of six more P-8Is (a total of 12 in-service, four pending) in the coming decade, the Indian Navy is on the path to achieving unparalleled regional maritime information dominance. Moving forward, Pakistan might seek Chinese assistance to bolster its reconnaissance limitations in the interests of larger shared security concerns viz China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan Navy’s doctrine and Vision 2030 (released in 2018) do not indicate interest in looking beyond the North Arabian Sea or acquiring high-end MPA but rather the reliance on refurbished commercial jets. The Naval Air Arm vision (2017) is similarly myopic and indicates intent to focus on coastal surveillance within immediate waters. Detecting hostile movements at greater distances in the maritime domain is perhaps not a strategic priority.

Till the time of writing this report, India remains the only Asian country to operate P-8Is (South Korea has placed orders for the P-8As and is waiting for deliveries). This gives a further edge to India in terms of interoperability with partner countries. Excepting Japan, all Quad members possess variants of the P-8 Poseidon.

While India cannot reasonably expect Pakistan to launch an offensive in view of considerable force disparity, the latter’s defensive manoeuvres would remain susceptible to P-8Is, eventually leading to a high likelihood of combat disadvantage. Pakistan Navy’s policymakers would need to reconsider their strategic myopia. For starters, the Western Indian Ocean in its entirety should be considered an important area for active patrolling in the larger interests of pre-empting hostile intent. To do this requires a massive doctrinal rethink in consultation with the political government and logistics exchange agreements with friendly countries.

More importantly, the decision to rely on refurbished jetliners should be changed from being “a substitute” to being “a temporary solution” pending the acquisition of high-end MPAs from overseas.


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Zaki Khalid​

Zaki Khalid is a strategic analyst and freelance commentator based in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. His areas of interest include national security, geopolitics, cyberspace and maritime affairs. He is also the founder and editor of 'Pakistan Geostrategic Review (PGR)', an independent platform publishing a premium newsletter and podcasts on geostrategic developments. He can be reached on Twitter @misterzedpk.
 

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Pakistani F-16s Approved for $450 Million Sustainment, Equipment​

  • Our Bureau
  • 01:45 AM, September 8, 2022
The U.S. State Department approving a Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan of F-16 sustainment and related equipment for an estimated cost of $450 million.

The proposed sale does not include any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions.

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The Government of Pakistan has requested to consolidate prior F-16 sustainment and support cases to support the Pakistan Air Force F-16 fleet by reducing duplicate case activities and adding additional continued support elements.

Included are U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics services for follow-on support of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet to include:


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  • Participation in F-16 Aircraft Structural Integrity Program
  • Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program
  • International Engine Management Program
  • Engine Component Improvement Program, and other technical coordination groups
  • Aircraft and engine hardware and software modifications and support
  • Aircraft and engine spare repair/return parts
  • Accessories and support equipment
  • Classified and unclassified software and software support
  • Publications, manuals, and technical documentation
  • Precision measurement, calibration, lab equipment, and technical support services
  • Studies and surveys
  • Other related elements of aircraft maintenance and program support.

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The proposed sale will continue the sustainment of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet, which greatly improves Pakistan’s ability to support counterterrorism operations through its robust air-to-ground capability.

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Fantastic Fantan​

March 3, 2022 Editor by Air Cdre Muhammad Ali
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Most dogfights last just a few seconds. They usually involve two opposing pilots, one of whom has no idea who the other guy is. Most kills happen that way. In 1986, A-5 and F-16 pilots entered the arena over the desert, North of Multan, for the first time. Leading a two-ship formation of A-5s during the first Dissimilar Aircraft Combat Training (DACT) (2 vs 2) in the annual Jetstream Exercise, Wg Cdr Hamid Khawaja (later retd as AVM), saw the F-16s pop out of the blue, with an aim to kill them. Wg Cdr Hamid Khawaja and his wingman were there to do the same. From then on what happened didn’t just happen. The A-5 pilots were watching their flight maneuvering, looking around. It was closed in, hard turning, mano a mano, the longest few minutes the PAF’s F-16 pilots had ever endured. “Earlier before the mission, we had cleaned up the aircraft. Took off everything, the racks, and the fuel tanks. The A-5 had more fuel capacity than its predecessor F-6. We could fly at the required speed with less power. Also, we were emitting less heat signature that’s why they could not get an early lock-on to us. The F-16s were better than us in every way, in turn, in climbing, in running away, in coming in. But our plan was to not engage for too long. And that’s how we got six kills during the exercise,” AVM Hamid Khawaja (Retd) recalled. That was not the only morale booster for the A-5 pilots. During another exercise in PAF Base Rafiqui, Wg Cdr Hamid Khawaja was tasked to attack a bridge on a canal in Chicho-ki-Malian (a small town in Punjab). PAF F-16s were heading towards the same destination, but only to intercept the raiding A-5s. The then Squadron Commander, Wg Cdr Hamid Khawaja, had put together two packages of four Mirages and six A-5 IIIs. He planned it such that the F-16 pilots went chasing in the wrong direction, enabling the A-5 pilots to complete their mission and escape. Later, this episode did upset a lot of people in the F-16 squadrons, but this is what the nature of this challenging profession is like. A curious feature of the A-5 history was its reputation as the leading ground attack jet despite its inferiority (with respect to performance) compared with other fighters in the PAF inventory of that time. Over the years, PAF pilots, engineers, and maintenance crew developed a kind of love and hate relationship with this rugged warrior owing to its diverse characteristics. That’s why it deserves a rightful place in the history of PAF as one of the potent weapon systems that served the nation for more than two decades. While the Chinese A-5 achieved fame on the strength of several outstanding attributes, of these, perhaps the most important was its excellent low-level capability. “The more it hugged the ground at high speeds, the more stable it used to become compared with other jets in the PAF’s fleet. The A-5 was excellent in the ground attack role,” reminisced AVM Sajid Habib (Retd). To these attributes were added, heavy offensive weaponry, though the true combat potential of the A-5 was achieved only after a long period of gestation. Back in 1997-98, Wg Cdr Sajid Habib was the officer commanding of Sqn No 16 ‘Black Panthers’, which was equipped with A-5 IIIs at that time. Under his command, ‘Panthers’ won the ACES trophy for the second time. That year, the No 16 Sqn, also scored Alpha every month in every exercise in live bombing and strafing. The sqn achieved the same feat almost a decade ago when it won the ACES trophy for the first time under the command of Wg Cdr Zafar Mirza in 1989-90. From there on there was no looking back. The A-5s earned their reputation and its pilots performed outstandingly in all exercises armament competitions and firepower demos.
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The Pioneers
Ferries of the A-5s from Nanchang, China commenced in the summers of 1983 and continued till mid of 1984, without the laborious and costly land hopping routine, which the PAF pilots experienced while ferrying F-6s almost a decade ago. The first six aircraft were delivered on 12 February 1983, under the command of Wg Cdr Hamid Saeed Khan and his seven colleagues, Wg Cdr Farooq Siddique, Sqn Ldr Mansoor Ahmed, Sqn Ldr Saeed Akhtar, Sqn Ldr SA Muddassir, Flt Lt Altaf Saleemi, Flt Lt Saifoor Ahmed and Flt Lt Ahmed Yar Khan. The ferry engineering officer was Sqn Ldr Asfar Majeed. Another six were delivered to Pakistan four days later. All in all 54 dual-engine A-5s were ferried from China in the coming months. A young Flt Lt in 1982, Sajid Habib was also among the pioneering pilots who went to Nanchang, China to complete a ground training course on A-5 IIIs. “By comparison, the A-5 was unusual looking. Our reaction was, what is that?’’ Perhaps, a cross between Mirage and F-6,” AVM Sajid Habib (Retd) remembered with a smile. Accompanying him during the course were Flt Lt Hanif, Sqn Ldr Saeed Shahi, Flt Lt Altaf Saleemi, Flt Lt Khawaja Latif. Wg Cdr Hamid Saeed Khan was the contingent commander. “These were the difficult times, as none of the locals could speak and understand English. Even the A-5 dash-one and checklist were in Chinese which made our lives miserable, however, Flt Lt Saleemi did a great job in translating all the procedures into English,” remembers AVM Sajid Habib (Retd). Mocked initially, the A-5’s fuel capacity was incredible. “It could fly farther than an F-6 fitted with fuel tanks. The first A-5s flew direct from Hotian to Rafiqui Air Force Base, at 34, 000 ft, with some 1, 300 liters of fuel to spare after we landed,” added AVM Sajid Habib (Retd), who carried out his first ferry in one go.
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Re-Equipments
No 16 Sqn, the ‘Black Panthers’ was the first sqn of the PAF to be equipped with A-5 III. The re-equipment ceremony was held on 21 March 1983 where General M Iqbal, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee was the guest of honor. Wg Cdr Hamid Saeed Khan was its first sqn cdr. During the ceremony, Wg Cdr Tahir Ahmed flew his A-5 in an aerobatic demonstration showing off the agility and maneuverability of the aircraft. Sqn Ldr Mansoor Ahmed, Sqn Ldr SA Muddassir, Flt Lt Altaf Saleemi, and Flt Lt Saifoor Ahmed flew their A-5s in a four-ship formation the same day. Two days later, on Pakistan’s Defence Day, another formation of A-5s flew by, led by the Rafiqui Base Commander, Air Cdre Amjad H Khan. PAF was proud to present its newest combat aircraft to the watching world. Next in line for re-equipment was the No 26 Sqn which got converted on to A-5 IIIs in mid of 1983, under the command of Wg Cdr S Arshad Toor. In 1985, after converting on A-5 IIIs, the sqn won the three top laurels, the Professionals, Flight Safety, and Command Armament competition trophy. No 7 ‘Bandits’ was the last sqn to receive a handful of A-5 IIIs replacing the vintage B-57 Bombers. On 27 December 1983, the re-equipment ceremony of the squadron was held at PAF Base Rafiqui, with Wg Cdr Shams Khan as its first sqn cdr. At the same time, the sqn was also re-assigned the new role as the ‘Tactical Attack Squadron’. At the end of the ceremony, two B-57s in close line astern position flew past the venue indicating the end of their valuable service to PAF. Moments later, in came the agile and sleek A-5s in close ‘VIC formation.

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The Backdrop
PAF pilots argued that the A-5 did not distinguish itself on any major event but flew with somewhat equal distinction. It did well over the mountains as well as over the southern desert. Its cosmopolitan nature was fundamental in its design, its origins much to the previous wars, and subsequently to the urgent need for reequipment by the PAF during the 80s. And even though the A-5s were inducted around the same time as the F-16s, the numbers of ‘Fighting Falcon’ delivered to Pakistan were insufficient, against an enemy air force four times its size. The Swedes had declined to sell Pakistan their Saab 105s and the PAF had refused the A-7 offered by the USA. The dangerous signals after the 71 war followed by a decade-long Afghan war had not been ignored by the PAF high command, which was continuously considering the future requirements for the air force. The search took on a new urgency and the PAF once again turned to the Chinese, who readily came up with the Nanchang A-5 III. Well suited to the low-level attack role, the A-5 was adaptable and extremely potent. Despite its limitations, it was to serve the PAF valorously in the coming decades. In the winters of December 1983, another 17 A-5 IIIs that joined the PAF fleet were equally split between No 16 and No 7 squadrons. The final delivery of some 13 A-5s, should have commenced in China on 19 January 1984. Bad weather meant that the 14 pilots led by Rafiqui Base Commander Air Cdre Saeed K Kamal, were all delayed at Hotian before the aircraft got to Rafiqui. Gp Capt Wali Mughni (Retd), who was then Squadron Commander of No 26 Sqn, remembers an incident of his life that was difficult for
him to shake away. In the winters of 1984, he along with his contingent flew to China to test-fly the newly selected A-5-III. Day after their arrival heavy snow started and continued for the next 21 days. “Those were very hard days, we were stuck in our rooms and heavy snow didn’t allow us to go outside,” remembers Gp Capt Wali Mughni (Retd). It cleared off on the 22nd day and we desperately went to the airport to carry out the test flight. Just after take-off, Wg Cdr Wali Mughni broke cloud cover at 2, 000 ft, and performed the necessary checks. He found the aircraft in perfect shape and threw it around to check the various systems. Accomplishing the mission, it was time to land. “As soon as I descended the runway had disappeared under fresh snowfall. The weather changed all of sudden without my expectations. Chinese ground staff frantically tried blowing the snow away using F-6 jet engines mounted on trucks,” recalled Gp Capt Wali Mughni (Retd). By the time they reached the end of the runway, the cleared stretch was again covered by snow. “It was now a matter of pride and honor. To eject or do whatever it takes to land the fighter. In no way I was convinced to abandon the brand new aircraft. I made two attempts for landing, however, could not locate the runway on the final approach due to a heavy blizzard. Finally, I informed the control tower that I was coming in for landing for the last time,” Gp Capt Wali Mughni (retd) said, who was by then flying on vapors. As soon as he touched down, his fuel finished completely and the engine flamed out on the runway. It was a close call, however, he managed to save a valuable PAF asset at the end of the day. The Aircraft The twin-engine fighter was an improved version of the Shenyang F-6, a Chinese derivative of the MIG-19. But the A-5s stronger wings allowed it to carry more air to ground weaponry. The F-6 was an air superiority fighter-interceptor, with limited air to ground capabilities. The two afterburning WP-6 turbojet engines provided the rugged A-5III, with its necessary propulsion. PAF A-5IIIs were different considerably from the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) versions, with several design features being introduced to increase the jet’s strike range. The swept-wing A-5 III could carry bombs, rockets, and air-to-air missiles. It had two GSH guns. External fuel tanks could be carried under the wings and rockets were mounted on underwing pylons. There were four belly stations, which could carry Durandals, Rockeye MK 20 CBU, BL-155 CBU or MK 82, and Snake Eye bombs. However, a fully loaded aircraft (2 AAM, 2 Drop Tanks, and 4 bombs) performed averagely.

averagely.
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Modifications
There were several modifications done to the A-5, to overcome the complexities of flying operations. The bombing mode (CCIP) that existed in the aircraft was tried out but proved to be of little benefit. The sight was depressed to levels where the pilot could not see it unless his helmet was touching the canopy. Nonetheless, by 1987, PAC Kamra had started overhauling the A-5III. Prior to this, the aircraft had to be ferried to China for attention. The year 1988 was the last time the three A-5s flew to China for overhauling and modifications. At PAC Kamra, engineers transformed the A-5 into a force of reckoning. With two wing-mounted cannons, and an array of western and Chinese bombs, including the runway busting Durandals and unguided rockets, the A-5III was turned into a lethal weapon system. For interception, the A-5III could call upon both western Matra 550 and AIM-9 sidewinders, as well as Chinese air-to-air weapons. Tactical air navigation (TACAN) system was also installed in 1985. Later, modifications included the installation of GPS-100 which proved to be handy during low-level tactical attack missions. While it carried more fuel than the F-6, the A-5 was like a cheap but primitive Mirage. “It was incomparable to the F-16. The ejection seat was unreliable and initially, we had several unfortunate accidents. Subsequently, the Chinese ejection seats were replaced with zero-zero Martin Baker seats. Another problem was the lack of stall warnings. As you approached the stall there was no pre-stall buffet or noise of the turbulent airflow over the canopy. The first indication was the onset of a tip stall causing the wings to rock. This was mistaken by many pilots during the initial years as a control problem. The aircraft had not been spin tested and had the same spin recovery procedure as the F-6 which was aerodynamically different,” recalled AVM Hamid Khawaja (Retd). Initially, the PAF pilots flying the other weapon systems underestimated the ‘Fantastic Fantan’. With proper tactics, the A-5 could hold its own against other jets. During exercises, initially, the agile Mirage pilots found it difficult to escape. On the other hand, when being chased, A-5 pilots also found it difficult to lose their tails. The A-5 possessed another performance feature, which enabled it to outpace most contemporary PAF service fighters was that it was difficult to spot. While the F-16 and F-7, if flown well, could get the better of the A-5, AVM Salman Bukhari (Retd), an A-5 veteran who holds the record of flying the maximum number of hours, said that this jet was invisible. “It’s camouflage livery on top and the undersurface sky blue paint job made the A-5 III almost from the ground and especially from above when flying high-speed low-level missions. I remember during exercises, our opponents could simply not spot us from above. It was a feature in which the A-5 had attained greater notoriety than any other weapon in the arsenal,” added AVM Salman Bukhari (Retd), smiling. Historically, three PAF squadrons, No 7 Sqn ‘Bandits’, No 16 Sqn ‘Black Panthers’, and No 26 Sqn ‘Black Spiders’ were reequipped with A-5III aircraft, No 16 Sqn being the pioneer. However, No 7 Sqn was the first A-5 sqn to relinquish the ‘Fantans’ and got converted to Australian ‘ROSE’ Mirages. The other two sqns carried on with the legacy of A-5 till its retirement from PAF service. Initially, PAF Base Rafiqui housed all the three A-5 sqns, however, No 16 and 26 sqns moved to their final destination at PAF Base Peshawar in 1989. Being at Peshawar, the two sqns played an important role on a variety of occasions. The sqns participated in all major operational activities and exercises of the PAF, which included Ops Sentinel, Hi-Mark 2005, Saffron Bandit, Banner Towing, Air-to-Air firing camp, and DACT at different locations. Intercepts were a normal part of the policing missions during the Afghan war in the 80s and the A-5 was the perfect proving ground for this act. To ensure the sovereignty of the Pakistan air space, the then Squadron Commander of No 26 Sqn, Wg Cdr Wali Mughni, was alerted to get airborne to investigate an aircraft and enforce a no-fly zone. Within three minutes, after radars picked up an unidentified aircraft, the sqn cdr was chasing the intruder along with his wingman. On his way, he was informed that a Russian jet had peeled off from an 8-ship formation on a bombing run along the Pak-Afghan border. “Being a fighter pilot is an attitude. We used to itch for such an opportunity, to get a kill. But the intruder started waggling the wings of his SU-25 and put his gears down. Obviously, we could not engage someone who had indicated to surrender,” Gp Capt Wali Mughni (Retd) recalled. When the pilot was forced to land he remained in the jet for quite some time. When he did step out, everyone on the tarmac was amused. He was a Peshawari-sandals and Shalwar Kamiz wearing chap, with the G-suit on top, a ‘Dari’ speaking defector.
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High Altitude Ops
“Deployment to PAF Qadri at Skardu used to be an event, we all waited anxiously throughout the year. It was fun flying there. Weather was good, especially if you are coming from Rafiqui,” remembers AVM Salman Bukhari (Retd). A-5 III was a very successful platform for deployment to high-altitude airfields like Skardu, which has more than 7000 feet elevation. “Mirages had their peculiar problems operating from high altitude runways and F-6s had limited fuel endurance. All in all, A-5 III was the weapon system of choice when it came to high-altitude operations. Flying low in ‘Shigar’ valley and making low-level passes over frozen lakes were some of the things you can’t forget,” adds AVM Salman Bukhari (Retd). The majority of pilots who have flown A-5 are of the opinion that the fuel carrying capacity of A-5 III was phenomenal, perhaps its biggest advantage. “We used to take-off from Peshawar, carry out bombing at a range in Skardu and return. No other aircraft could fly that distance,” said veteran A-5 pilot, AVM Salman Bukhari (Retd), who topped in weapons systems during one of the biggest armament competitions in 1996. AVM Salman Bukhari (Retd), who had flown all PAF jets attributed its success to its stability at low levels, long hauls, and weapons carrying capacity. A-5 pilots have bitter and sweet memories. “It’s never easy to bid farewell to your comrades, especially the ones you have trained for so long. I saw my wingman catch fire and he could not eject. He lies in the vicinity of the runway at PAF Base Rafiqui. May Allah Bless his soul, I still find that very difficult to reconcile,” AVM Hamid Khawaja (Retd) said in a gloomy tone. Some also have sweeter memories. The A-5 squadrons were like springboards for conversion to more advanced F-16s. It was a norm that the A-5 pilots used to convert directly on the Fighting Falcons. One of the prime reasons was pilots were able to fly two hours missions comfortably, thanks to its impressive endurance. AVM Hamid Khawaja and ACM Sohail Aman along with many others were among those who later converted onto F-16s. Farewell to Fantan The year 2007, was the beginning of the end for the A-5s. After serving the nation for more than two decades, the ‘Fantan’ finally gave way to the more agile, state-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder. A-5 III tail number 3W-110, was the first to be retired, the same jet that AVM Sajid Habib flew as a young Flt Lt for the very first time at PAF Base Rafiqui. He was not going to turn down the request to enjoy the last moments in the sky in the A-5, and so had the privilege to fly it for one last time as Base Commander, PAF Base Peshawar. “The jet flew so smoothly. The credit went to the engineers, who maintained the aircraft so well that not a single needle fluctuated. It was 101 percent serviceable sortie. I along with squadron commanders of No 16 and No 26 Sqns on my wing flew the farewell flight. To record the historical event, I took along my trusted digicam for making videos. It was nostalgia, a mixed feeling of satisfaction and pride. It was painful to say goodbye to a friend with whom you had such a long association,” added AVM Sajid Habib (Retd) recollecting memorable times spent with the aircraft. After a low buzz over the airfield, it was time for Air Cdre Sajid Habib to land back amidst the cheering crowds. The A-5 holds a special place in the PAF’s aviation history. In some respects, the combat career of the A-5 III was much less spectacular than that of other jets. While it never saw an actual war, it remained in the front-line service throughout its tenure. Be it Ops Sentinel, standoff with India, or Kargil war, A-5 was there to defend and respond. A-5 sightings in the air have long gone. The jet now joins the heritage of aircraft collections in the PAF Museum, Karachi. Few of the A-5s are installed at busy crossroads of major Pakistani cities reminding the nation that the ‘Fantastic Fantan’ played its part while defending the aerial frontiers of this sacred motherland.
 

ghazi52

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OPTIONS TO COUNTER THE NEW THREATS
(By Sarmad Hassan Sharif)

PAF in the mid 70s was not in a good shape. It comprised of Chinese F-6s, French Mirage-III/V and American F-86E/F Sabres. The F-6 was a good aircraft in Air Defence and Close Support roles but it was certainly not an offensive strike aircraft. In the 1971 war, it could easily run and catch IAF intruders such as Hunters and Su-7s, but now IAF had better aircraft in terms of acceleration, power and avionics. The only advantage they had was their dogfight capability which was unmatched by the Jaguars, Fishbeds and the Floggers.

The Mirage was an excellent ground attack platform and had better range of weapons than the F-6s. Historically they had a good reputation if pitted against the MiG-21s (and even 23s if the latter opted for a knife fight). But they could not stop the MiG-25 Foxbat from intruding in our airspace, neither they could dogfight a Mirage-2000H, nor they had the electronics to beat the MiG-23MF in BVR role.

With the country's economy striving hard to move on, a global oil crises and US embargo, PAF had no option but to add in more F-6s to maintain numbers. However in 1975, after lifting of the ten year US embargo, PAF ordered AIM-9D and AIM-9P missiles as well as sent a request to procure a new aircraft type in order to replace the F-86. The US offered 110 A-7D Corsair ground attack aircraft deemed as excess defence article (EDA) by Nixon/Ford admin without any restrictions.

PAF was more than happy to procure them as it would enhance their strike capability a great deal. 110 aircraft meant five squadrons and an OCU. A-7 being a steady and sturdy ground attack platform would solve the deep strike problem which PAF was facing. Before they were delivered Carter won the presidential elections and he cancelled the agreement because of Pakistan's nuclear program - it was his election pledge to be more strict on nuclear proliferation and human rights. The story for the A-7Ds ended before it was started, PAF had to order more Mirages.

PAF in their third order for Mirages, ordered a customized version of the Mirage-V, known as Mirage-VPA2/3. These Mirages were equipped with a modern Navigation/Attack System. the PA-3 version had the Thomson AGAVE Radar compatible with the Exocet Anti Ship missile as a counter to the Indian Sea Eagle Anti Ship missile.


10409101_1548257065423737_6304839422927239290_n.jpg



11041225_1548255645423879_1270713577085997211_o.jpg
 

GriffinsRule

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.,.,.,.,
OPTIONS TO COUNTER THE NEW THREATS
(By Sarmad Hassan Sharif)

PAF in the mid 70s was not in a good shape. It comprised of Chinese F-6s, French Mirage-III/V and American F-86E/F Sabres. The F-6 was a good aircraft in Air Defence and Close Support roles but it was certainly not an offensive strike aircraft. In the 1971 war, it could easily run and catch IAF intruders such as Hunters and Su-7s, but now IAF had better aircraft in terms of acceleration, power and avionics. The only advantage they had was their dogfight capability which was unmatched by the Jaguars, Fishbeds and the Floggers.

The Mirage was an excellent ground attack platform and had better range of weapons than the F-6s. Historically they had a good reputation if pitted against the MiG-21s (and even 23s if the latter opted for a knife fight). But they could not stop the MiG-25 Foxbat from intruding in our airspace, neither they could dogfight a Mirage-2000H, nor they had the electronics to beat the MiG-23MF in BVR role.

With the country's economy striving hard to move on, a global oil crises and US embargo, PAF had no option but to add in more F-6s to maintain numbers. However in 1975, after lifting of the ten year US embargo, PAF ordered AIM-9D and AIM-9P missiles as well as sent a request to procure a new aircraft type in order to replace the F-86. The US offered 110 A-7D Corsair ground attack aircraft deemed as excess defence article (EDA) by Nixon/Ford admin without any restrictions.

PAF was more than happy to procure them as it would enhance their strike capability a great deal. 110 aircraft meant five squadrons and an OCU. A-7 being a steady and sturdy ground attack platform would solve the deep strike problem which PAF was facing. Before they were delivered Carter won the presidential elections and he cancelled the agreement because of Pakistan's nuclear program - it was his election pledge to be more strict on nuclear proliferation and human rights. The story for the A-7Ds ended before it was started, PAF had to order more Mirages.

PAF in their third order for Mirages, ordered a customized version of the Mirage-V, known as Mirage-VPA2/3. These Mirages were equipped with a modern Navigation/Attack System. the PA-3 version had the Thomson AGAVE Radar compatible with the Exocet Anti Ship missile as a counter to the Indian Sea Eagle Anti Ship missile.


10409101_1548257065423737_6304839422927239290_n.jpg



11041225_1548255645423879_1270713577085997211_o.jpg
Nice, only picture of 70425 Ive seen so far
 

ghazi52

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1965 Pakistan-India War:​

Three AAAs that saved Pakistan – ALLAH, Artillery, and the Air Force​

Admin PSF
September 7, 2021


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1965 war witnessed the rattling of two air-forces ratioed 1:5 means every single fighter aircraft of Pakistan Air Force was had 5 opponents to fight against. No other option was there other than to defend the homeland from the cowards who opened the war front in the darkness of a night.

They aimed to capture Lahore in a day, but they underestimated the sons of soil, the rigid nerves of men in uniforms, ready to embrace death in the defense of the motherland. The intense air battles resulted losses on both sides but the heroics of PAF were remarkable enough to be mentioned in the books of history.

Although the war broke out on 6th September, but PAF was put on red alert by the visionary leadership of Air Marshal Nur Khan. This helped PAF attaining upper hand and virtual control of whole war, it greatly facilitated in preparing the PAF for imminent war. As the war broke, PAF adopted a very offensive strategic plan of crippling IAF on ground through air strikes on their airfields.

Meanwhile they also carried extensive ground support by pounding the advancing armored columns of Indian Army. IA opened fronts at Lahore, Kasur & Sialkot with tanks, artillery guns, armored vehicles, and infantry support. On 6 September, the 15th Infantry Division of the Indian Army, under World War II veteran Major General Niranjan Prasad, battled a massive counterattack by Pakistan near the west bank BRB Canal. He made two attempts to cross the canal and enter the Lahore city but was stopped by resilience and resistance of Pakistan Armed Forces. 3rd Jat division of Indian Army was able to cross the BRB and capture the village of Batapur near Jallo-More of Lahore, but the sharp shooters of PAF destroyed their ammunition stores and armored vehicles, which shattered their morale and they had to retreat.
PAF had F-104 starfighters for high altitude flight and to provide cover to the low flying F-86 Sabers. PAF had 125 F-86 Sabre, a dozen or so F-104 Starfighters and around 27 B-57 Canberra Medium Bombers.

IAF possessed some 26 fighter squadrons and four medium bomber squadrons. It deployed IAF could deploy only one MiG-21 squadron which had only a handful of aircraft on its strength; five Mystere Ground Attack squadrons, three Hunter Fighter G/A squadrons, three Gnat Mk1 Air Defense squadrons; three Canberra medium bomber squadrons and two reformed and merged Vampire squadrons, which were withdrawn when four Vampires were lost on the first day of operations against Pakistan.

The employment of PAF assets was accomplished in a very innovative and professional manner. Single squadron of PAF F-104s managed to attain and maintain air superiority throughout the conflict. The Star Fighters were employed as top cover for the F-86s representing a threat to the IAF fighter fleet. Resultantly, brilliantly flown PAF Sabers inflicted more losses on the IAF Hunters, Gnats and Mysteres.

The employment of the Bomber fleet was also very well panned by the PAF top leadership. Besides the fighters, the bombers also made significant contributions by undertaking regular night bombing operations against several Indian airfields, damaging most of them. PAF leadership also exhibited a classic example of unconventional means of utilizing its C-130 fleet for night bombing.

The speed with which the idea was adopted, and the necessary modifications incorporated reflected the PAF’s pilots and engineer’s genius for improvisation
PAF was outnumbered in comparison to the IAF, yet it had superiority in terms of training which pilots were undergoing for 8 years with Americans. PAF’s B57s were also better than the Indian English Electric ones with superior avionics and upgradation package.

Prior to the full front war, Flight Lieutenant Imtiaz Ahmad Bhatti and Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmad Rafiqui gave a bloody nose to IAF Vampires on September 1, when two PAF F-86 Sabre shot four IAF Vampires, when they were attacking army in Chamb area. Post this, no Vampire was seen in the rest of the war.

Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmad Rafiqui was in command of three F-86 aircrafts in the strike against Halwara airfield on September 6. His guns were jammed for some unknown reason, Rafiqui, unarmed as he was, refused to give up and continued instead to provide protection to his co-fighters while ordering his wingman to take over as leader. Although, his aircraft was shot down. However, he did allow others to hit three more of hunters of IAF, which had intercepted them in their strike. Given his exemplary leadership in each of his exploits, he has been honored with Sitara-i-Jurat and Hilal-i-Jurat. In another heroic attempt,

PAF Pilot Muhammad Mehmood Alam shot Five IAF Hawker Hunters in less than 60 seconds, making it a world record yet to be broken. He was awarded with Sitara-e-Jurat

In reaction to the Indian thwart against Lahore on 6th September, PAF responded with preemptive attacks on Indian airfields at Pathankot, Adampur and Halwara. Pathankot was a great success for PAF as around 10 Indian aircrafts were destroyed on ground by PAF pilots.

The best day for PAF was to defend Sargodha, the central fort for the Air Force, against the Indian charge and thwart to destroy the center of operations. PAF defended the fort with a great courage, a small force against a 3-5 times larger enemy in numeric, but it was the training of PAF Pilots, the spirit of Eeman and the patriotism which made them a rigid wall of defense and Indian attempts were neutralized.

All in all, the war was ruled by PAF virtually in the skies as India lost around 75 aircrafts (110 claimed by Pakistan) in the cost of mere 20 aircraft losses by Pakistan. There is a famous saying of an Indian Pilot:
 

ghazi52

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Most awaited Volume-II of "Eagles of Destiny" coming out next week. Written by the two most knowledgeable authors, this book will include references from exhaustive interviews and data archives never seen before. This volume will be more interesting as it covers both major wars


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