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PAF Exercises in Pakistan

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Exercise "Wide Awake"


Exercise 'Wide Awake' has been conducted by fighter squadrons for the past several years, with an aim to improve and test the ability of bases and fighter squadrons to react to operational requirements at short notice in peacetime.

Based on the past experience of this exercise, the procedure and assessment criteria were reviewed in 1997. The review was designed to bring the exercise in close conformity with the war role of various squadrons and to make an assessment in line with the policy governing the Assessment of Combat Efficiency of the Squadron (ACES).

The regional air commands task all the operational squadrons under the command for exercise 'Wide Awake' once in every six months. A squadron, which does not conduct this exercise during a particular half for some reason, is tasked twice in the subsequent half so as to complete the quota of these exercises for the calendar year.

The Operational Conversion Units (OCU) and Combat Commanders School (CCS) are tasked only during the slack period between the courses, if deemed appropriate. An additional exercise could also be tasked by the Inspector General's Branch during the annual visit to the bases. The tasking orders for the exercise are issued not more than fifteen hours before the first TOT specified by a regional air command. This warning is invariably given after working hours. All serviceable aircraft of an operational squadron, including ADA aircraft, are to be flown in the exercise. The aircraft are fully loaded as for operational missions.

All formations are required to approach the designated range at 250 feet AGL after a low level run of at least 70 NM. The rules governing the exercise, and the armament to be carried are specified. The squadron then raises a post exercise report, including armament results, within ten days.​
 

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Exercise "Flat Out"



The aim of this exercise has been to train for surge operations in war. Because of the induction of new aircraft and in the light of past experience, the rules governing this exercise were modified in 1996 to bring the latter in consonance with the wartime role of the various squadrons.

The frequency of this exercise is the same as that of Wide Awake, i.e. once in every six months. The taskings are done by the regional air commands. The completion of two such exercises for each combat squadron is mandatory. The OCUs and the squadrons of the CCS are tasked only during the slack period between the courses. The half-yearly requirement is not applicable to these squadrons. The exercise is conducted under the command and control of the squadron commander with the base commander exercising over all supervision through the OC Flying Wing.

The flying effort required of a squadron varies according to its role and the type of aircraft. F-16 and Mirage squadrons have as their task a night component also. A day prior to the exercise, tail numbers if the participating aircraft are required to be passed to the regional air commands by the squadron. Once selected, the aircraft can not be changed during the exercise. Similarly, names of the participating aircrew are to be forwarded to the respective commands a day prior to the commencement of the exercise. Aircraft and aircrew rotation for exercise Flat Out, form part of the ACES evaluation for maintenance efficiency and combat training, respectively.

The exercise is conducted on two consecutive days. The exercise hours are calculated from the first take-off till the last landing. The type, number, the minimum duration for different missions, and the configuration of various aircraft and squadrons are all specified in the relevant orders.​
 

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Exercise "Saffron Bandit"

In order to keep the PAF's fighting elements at the peak of their efficiency, the CCS was vested with the responsibility of conducting annual visits to all the fighter squadrons to enhance their combat awareness and for the purpose of assessing their combat efficiency. Later, Air HQ instituted Squadron Combat Upgradation Programme (SCUP), which started in June 1990.

Two fighter squadrons and a number of CCS pilots and air defence weapons controllers participated in each cycle, which lasted for a month. Four such cycles were conducted, and they concluded in October 1990. In order to further consolidate the professional architecture of the PAF, a new exercise, 'Saffron Bandit' was launched in September 1992. This exercise was conceived and anointed by the then DCAS (O). Air Vice Marshal Shafique Hyder, Air Commodore Zahid Anis, along with the operations staff at Air HQ did the necessary spadework to put it into action.

The exercise runs concurrently with the other planned events and is aimed at providing a realistic environment to the PAF aircrew to apply the basic skills acquired through the training syllabi of every fighter squadron.

The syllabi are in line with the specified role for the respective weapon systems. The objective of this command level exercise are quite broad-based. The exercise include role-oriented, applied training to the pilots in near-realistic scenarios and effective training of operational controllers in the planned phases of combat flying. This approach not only aims to achieve standardization of tactics/tactical procedures, and up-gradation of tactics, but also generates applied thinking to varying scenarios in the exercise.

Saffron Bandit is designed on the building block concept. It progressively increases in complexity, and various elements are added with every mission to provide a complete threat scenario towards the final stages of the programme.

The assets are employed in offence versus defence set up with the respective weapons system taking up their prescribed role. Some of the missions are planned to culminate with actual weapon deliveries against tactical targets at the live firing range.

The exercise is chalked out in an area around the PAF's tactical training range. All targets are selected within a specified area. A bomb line is demarcated as a boundary between the offensive and the defensive areas of employment. The altitude of operation in the specified area extends from low-level to 20,000 ft AMSL. The range has been developed with more realistic structures such as a concrete bridge, a SAM site, and a command and control center. An airfield closeby is yet another target. used for practising mass raids.

All targets are set up with an array of surface to air threats to provide practice to the missile crews, and for the pilots to use skills in weapons delivery and attack planning. Some other targets within the radar lit up areas like the bridges, railway stations, and stretches of roads and railway lines are selected as targets for some missions.

The threats employed against attacking targets vary with every mission. In the initial phase of interdiction attack, the AAA and SAM ate simulated so as to enable the crew to cope with simpler employment considerations. In the subsequent missions the defences are in the form of low level radar, with only a limited track length and a pair of interceptors.

The subsequent missions entail an integrated defence system involving AAA, Mistral, Crotale, Low Level Radars with progressively increased track length and pair of interceptors increasing from one to three towards the last mission. ECM/ESM support is provided by Falcon DA-20 aircraft and the types of missions include both offensive as well as defensive counter air operations.

A syllabus of ten sorties per operational pilots is prescribed for the offensive squadrons while those operating in the defensive role are able to fly thirteen sorties per pilot.

Details on every mission in terms of the target, defences, threats, attack and weapon options etc. are all pre-decided. This is also the case with formation sizes and supporting elements. A progressive analysis of all operations culminating in comprehensive debriefs for the participating squadrons is finally put upto the Air Staff after the exercise.

The data available from these exercises enables the PAF to validate the current tactics and standardize the PAF doctrine for most aspects of applied air power. An elaborate organizational structure has been put in place to plan, conduct, and monitor these exercises.

Saffron Bandit exercises have proved to be extremely useful. They have helped upgrade the operational efficiency of PAF squadrons and their standardization. This is a non-assessed exercise, which is overseen by the CCS. It evokes keen and enthusiastic participation among both pilots and controllers.

At the end of each exercise, The CCS carries out a detailed analysis in order to identify strong and weak areas vis-à-vis operational readiness at the field level. The exercise was conducted in 1992, 1994, 1997, and 14 May 1999.​
 

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PAF Command Level Operation Exercise Hawk Eye

Abbas Ali » Fri Nov 29, 2019


Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on November 29 conducted a command level operation exercise with participation of all operational bases across three regional commands.

PAF aircraft participated in the massive concurrent exercise to practice short notice offensive employment concept involving fighter aircraft, force-multipliers and special forces.

The concept validates the PAF's options for offensive employment of its various capabilities.


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Exercise 'High Mark - 89' and 'Zarb-e-Momin'


Exercise High Mark-89 was held from 14 November to 23 December 1989. The aim of this exercise was to create a realistic operational environment for the full range of air operations and to employ all participating units in their war roles and to identify weaknesses affecting mission accomplishment. With the overall deployment in mind, the exercise was structured in a manner which ensured that besides achieving the desired aim, maximum air support was made available to the Pakistan Army's major exercise, 'Zarb-e-Momin'.

The exercise was conducted on a two-force concept. The AOC, NAC commanded Blueland Air Force (BAF) from his battle headquarters located at Chaklala, while the AOC, CAC commanded Foxland Air Force (FAF) from his battle headquarters at Sargodha. The exercise was conducted in three stages. Counter Air Operations (CAO) including DACT were designated as Stage-I, weapons delivery as Stage-II, and land support operations as Stage-III. The respective force commanders were given the freedom to plan and exercise their allocated assets in Stage-I and Stage-III of the exercise. Stage-II was controlled from the Command Operations Center (COC). The overall battle scenario was portrayed as that of Exercise Zarb-e-Momin and accordingly the air assets were divided to suit the requirements of the exercise.

The exercise commenced with the declaration of Phase -I on 14 November 1989. Phase-II was declared in 22 November 1989. The movement of squadrons took place according to the schedule. A total of 1,083 fighter sorties were flown during the deployment and Phase-II operations. Phase-III was declared on 30 November 1989. The phase lasted till 22 December when the exercise was concluded and unit re-deployed to their peacetime locations. A total of 5, 236 sorties were flown by both the air forces (BAF and FAF).

Conduct of Operations

The counter air operations phase was spread over five days. During the first two days, the BAF was largely on the defensive. The next two days, the FAF was on the defensive and on the fifth day, both attacked each others VPs and defended their own. An important feature of CAO was the employment of electronic warfare assets. This was first exercise where Falcon DA-20 along with ESM and ECM equipment was used. The major lesson was that EW equipment required frequent testing and also that its operational employment was required to be integrated with the overall air plan.

At the end of the CAO phase, with a day's gap for change of configuration, three days were devoted to DACT, which was controlled by the COC. Over 800 sorties were planned but only half of them could be achieved due to bad weather. A night ground defence exercise was conducted at Sargodha. A group of 105 SSG troops and 14 PAF commandos raided the base defended by 842 personnel, consisting of GCs. Provost, MODC, and technicians. A RRR exercise was carried out at Rafiqui. This exercise pointed out to some deficiencies in the equipment, material, and more importantly trained manpower. Balloon barrages were deployed at Sargodha and Rafiqui without encountering any difficulty.

The Contribution of the PAF in Zarb-e-Momin

It was during the exercise Zarb-e-Momin-89 that the Air-Land warfare concept was tried out for the first time on a very large scale. Plans were integrated at both the headquarters and field formations level. The Northern Air Command (NAC) and corresponding Corps (8B and 18B) interacted in order to understand each other's requirements at the strategic and tactical levels before finalizing the air support plans.

The BAF headquarters at COC Chaklala operated from four airfields. Air Defence radar assets were allocated under the control of Northsec at ADOC Chaklala, working under the overall command of AOC NAC. At the conceptual stage, it was agreed by the BAF and Blue Army (BA) Commanders that air support for land operations should be provided only at the crucial stages of land battle, such as, in riposte. As the BA plans crystallized for such a riposte, the BAF organized its air defence radar coverage to provide surveillance over the BA assembly areas and subsequent battle-zones.

The BAF fighters provided air cover over the assembly areas to obtain a favourable air situation from R+3 onwards. Photo reconnaissance missions to collect information on the enemy disposition were flown earlier. From 'R' Day the air action started at full scale. BA's surge requirement, contrary to the earlier plans, changed considerably from R+1/R+2 onwards. Therefore, BAF operations were stretched over eleven days, providing a high sortie rate. Despite some difficulties and persistantly bad weather during the earlier hours of the day, the BAF achieved 962 sorties of air support in all forms against a planned target of 1,324 sorties.

Air defence operations in Zarb-e-Momin provided for the first time an insight into the problems of providing air cover to a moving battlefield. BAF demonstrated practically that the ADGE could be kept in step with the changing bomb-line through redeployment of radars in the combat zone. Before the commencement of Zarb-e-Momin, the BAF ADGE was shifted and radar units were redeployed in order to illuminate the entire land battle area in accordance with the battle plans of Blue Army. These deployments were coordinated with the Army's advance. Radar redeployments were carried out with the progress of the land battle. A total of 221 sorties were flown by the BAF, intercepting 420 FAF aircraft. The FAF generated 354 raids, of which 207 were intercepted.

Large-scale and moving air space management in these integrated Army/Air Force operations was undertaken for the first time. A total of 1,384 Army Aviation aircraft were handled. The existing concept was largely validated. However, some difficulties were faced concerning the indiscriminate use of the radar facility by the operators, radio discipline, etc. Besides, it was realized that there should be an efficient control at the CRC to monitor the activities of the Army Aviation aircraft.

Interdiction

The BAF planned a total of 124 sorties of interdiction and achieved 117 sorties. These included deep interdiction of enemy bridges, with F-16s carrying LGB/ATLIS. The PAF umpires repeatedly awarded destruction of bridges from R-3 onwards, but the Army Control Headquarters withheld the award to suit the battle design. Night interdiction was conducted by Mirages.

Of the 563 sorties planned for the armed reconnaissance, 299 sorties were achieved. Those were pre-planned against expected targets indicated by the Army intelligence and against targets of opportunity in specified areas or line features such as communications arteries. The efficacy of Battlefield Air Interdiction (BAI) is entirely dependent on acquiring advance knowledge of target systems, their location, and type. This is one area that should have received greater attention.

Close Support

Out of 412 sorties planned for close support, 324 sorties were achieved. Post-exercise analysis revealed certain problems related to poor radio contact with the FACs, non-availability of updated maps, navigation problems related to the improper selection of Contact Point (CP), and lastly, delays in mission tasking, leaving insufficient time for mission planning.

Tactical Air Transport Support Tactical Air Transport Support was provided to the Army for para-drops and air supply. A total of eleven C-130 sorties were provided. These missions involved detailed coordination of Director Air Transport (DAT), Tactical Air Support Center (TASC) and Special Services Group (SSG). All the missions were flown successfully.

Photo Reconnaissance

The Photo-Reconnaissance activity was directly controlled by the COC. A total of three LORAP sorties were tasked, out of which two were flown to obtain enemy field deployment intelligence prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Seven Panoramic photo missions were planned and six achieved during the operations.

Claims/Awards, Stage-III

During this stage, 796 ground attack claims were made of which 761 were awarded, giving a success rate of 95%. Targets included bridges, tanks, armoured vehicles, transports/convoys, troop concentrations, logistic installations, railway stations, trains, rail/road junctions, landing pads/airfields, aircraft on the ground, and radar sites. Cumulative air-to-air missions amounted to 535 enemy aircraft. Against those, 515 kills and 24 damages were awarded.

Lessons Derived

Exercise 'Zarb-e-Momin - 1989' provided a rare oppertunity for the PAF to participate in a field exercise involving an Army field headquarters consisting of multiple corps. Active involvement of the PAF and the Pakistan Army formations in strategic and tactical planning was very productive in creating a mutual understanding of each other's capabilities, limitations, and concepts.

An important lesson of this exercise was that the requirement of planning and committing air effort in support of Army operations is a task fraught with complications. The planned commitment of air support becomes totally irrelevant to the actual requirements during operations as the battle unfolds. However, the close-support procedures, integration of Army Air Defence assets with the PAF, and tactical reconnaissance with real time information on targets, emerged as the issues that needed to be tackled at the inter-Services level. Since then a lot of water has flown under the bridge!
 

ghazi52

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. Exercise 'High Mark - 93'



Exercise 'High Mark-93', based on a single force concept, was held from 16 October to 16 November 1993. All the operational flying units including 22 OCU participated. The remaining training squadrons continued with their normal tasks. An elaborate umpiring organization was set up under the overall supervision of the IG's Branch to evaluate the activities generated during the exercise.

The aim of the exercise was to create an environment in which air operations could be conducted to provide realistic and role oriented operational training to combat aircrew, fighter controllers, and other personnel of the PAF. The specific objectives of that exercise were: first, to familiarize all the personnel with their wartime role; second, to access the functioning of the Command and Control system, and finally, to create a simulated Air-Land battle scenario in coordination with the Pakistan Army.

In order to achieve these aims and objectives, the exercise was divided into different stages to avoid simultaneous execution of all types of missions thus facilitating the validation of specific existing concepts. Stage-I was designated for counter air operations, Stage-II for battlefield support operations, and Stage-III for tactical weapon delivery.

The governing guidelines for the first two stages were an eastward orientation of the defence, near realistic air defence effort and ADGE, and operations in two geographically separated battle zones. The third phase was programmed for delivering ordinance through a tactical approach on the Thal Range, on a pattern similar to exercise 'Wide Awake'.

During Stage-I of the exercise that lasted for four days, the attacking force generated 738 CAO sorties. Another 67 sorties of airfield strikes were flown during Stage-II. Thus a total of 805 CAO missions were flown during the exercise, which constituted156 raids. The raiders claimed 1,873 bombs, out of which 1,512 bombs were awarded, thereby giving a target-kill rate of 80.72%. Exercise High Mark-93 was yet another milestone for the PAF and proved to be a success in achieving the desired aims and objectives.​
 

ghazi52

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Saudi Eagles visiting the den of Pakistani Vipers at Mushaf.
Always love seeing PAFxRSAF exercise photos. ACES meet 2017
 

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