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PAF F-104 Starfighters

Discussion in 'Pakistan Air Force' started by IrbiS, Aug 23, 2015.

  1. IrbiS

    IrbiS FULL MEMBER

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    A little piece on PAF Starfighters by recent ''Aeroplane Icons Magazine''



    Other than the short assignment of aircraft to the Republic of China, the first overseas customer for the F-104 Starfighter was Pakistan. Following the withdrawal of the F-104A from service with the USAF’s ADC, a batch of F-104A aircraft (plus two dual-control trainers) was supplied to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) under the US Mutual Defence Assistance Programme. They entered service during 1961 and continued to fly until 1972 when dwindling spares support forced their early retirement.
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    Twelve F-104As were delivered, these being 56-803 to 807, 868, 874, 875, 877, 879, 773 and 798, plus trainers 57-1309 and 1312. In response to Pakistan’s requirements, all of the F-104As were refitted with the M-61 Gatling 20mm gun that had previously been removed from most F-104A airframes because of reliability issues. Pakistan had considered the exclusive use of the aircraft’s Sidewinder missile armament but the decision to re-fit the cannon system proved to be a wise move, as the aircraft were soon being used in actual combat. The improved J79-GE-11A engine (designed to be stall-free and to deliver a maximum thrust of 15,800lb) was also installed in the aircraft. This made the Pakistan F-104s somewhat unique in that despite carrying cannon armament, they were still the lightest of the F-104 series whilst being equipped with a more advanced J79 engine, thereby enjoying an excellent thrust-to-weight ratio.
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    The only PAF unit to be equipped with the F-104 was No.9 Air Superiority Squadron, a unit that had previously operated ancient Hawker Fury fighters, and although the jump from the biplane era was drastic, the unit’s experience with the Starfighter was very positive. The serviceability rate of the F-104A during the first five years of service was over 80 percent and the aircraft performed well throughout its operational life. Employed in the medium and high level air-to-air role by the PAF, the F-104A Starfighters remained in service for twelve years and flew some 11,690 hours. During the 1965 Pakistan-India War, the F-104s flew a total of 246 hours and during the 1971 War, the F-104s flew a total of 103 hours.
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    U.S Air Force F-104A firing two Sidewinders, 1957.


    During the first of these two conflicts, the Pakistan Air Force was forced to use its small force of Starfighters as high altitude interceptors in both day and night fighting roles, using the aircraft’s AN/ASG-14T1 fire-control system in conjunction with Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. From 1 September onwards, the F-104s were employed more extensively in air defence and air superiority operations, and from the 246 missions flown by F-104s during hostilities, 42 were at flown at night against the Indian Air Force’s Canberras. The F-104A’s relatively unsophisticated fire-control radar was more than adequate for the Soviet high altitude bomber threat for which it was designed, but it could not illuminate small targets against ground clutter, making it less-than ideal for anything other than high-altitude interception. Therefore the standard high speed intercept tactic employed by PAF’s F-104 pilots was to approach their targets from below, with a typical height differential of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet, against a target that they would acquire at a range of 10-15 kilometers. This tactic was well known to the Canberra jet bomber pilots of the IAF who flew the attack missions into Pakistan, and they adopted a standard hi-lo-hi profile to minimize the threat of interception. During most of their inbound and outbound flight over Pakistani territory the IAF Canberras would stay below 1,000ft during their approach and exit phases. This posed a difficult night intercept problem that required the F-104A to be flown in an unconventional low-altitude intercept profile that severely challenged the capabilities of its airborne radar. To pick up the low flying bombers on their radar scopes, the F-104 pilots had to get down to less than 500ft to point their radars upwards and clear of ground clutter, towards the enemy bombers.
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    The PAF’s problems were aggravated by the Canberra’s tail warning audio alarm that would sound as soon as Starfighter got anywhere near a line-astern astern position, enabling the bomber pilot to take timely evasive action and shake-off his pursuer. But despite the Starfighter’s limitations, the Indian Air Force’s pilots regarded the F-104 as a very serious threat. On 3 September 1965, even before the War began, an Indian Gnat pilot surrendered to an F-104 pilot, who forced the Gnat pilot to land at an abandoned airfield at Pasrur in Pakistan. On 6 September two Starfighters were sent on dawn patrol from Sargodha. They were vectored towards a flight of four IAF Mysteres engaged in bomb and rocket attacks against a stationary passenger train at Gakkhar railway station. One of the F-104 pilots was forced to return to base with a radio failure but the second pilot put his F-104 into a dive in full afterburner power, plunging supersonically through the Mystere formation (which promptly scattered.) The Indian pilots tried to escape at very low level but they couldn’t escape the Starfighter. One Mystere was hit by a Sidewinder missile and became a victim of one of the world’s first air victories by a Mach 2 combat aircraft. The other F-104 pilot,who had missed his chance the previous day, enjoyed greater success on 7 September when he was scrambled in an F-104A at 05:15 hours and directed by radar towards an incoming raid at Sargodha. He made visual contact with the IAF Mysteres and headed towards them. By the time he caught up with them, the Indian aircraft were roughly eight miles away from Sargodha, flying at 150 feet on a south-easterly heading towards India. As the Mystere pilots jettisoned their drop tanks, he positioned himself behind one Mystere and released a GAR-8 ( Sidewinder )missile, which went straight into the ground. The Mystere pilot immediately began to employ evasive tactics and a full “dogfight” ensued, with the Starfighter pilot using the F-104A’s superior climb and acceleration to lift the combat from ground level to more than 7,000ft in order to gain room for manoeuvre, but allowing the F-104 to get into a turning fight was a mistake. The Mystere pilot showed commendable courage by staying in the fight, and despite being mortally wounded he eventually scored several cannon strikes against the Starfighter, causing it to be abandoned. This was the first and only Starfighter to be lost through enemy action in the 1965 war, and the incident served to illustrate that in less-than ideal circumstances, the Starfighter was still vulnerable to older and less-capable fighters.


    The Indian pilot (Squadron Leader A.B. Devayya) was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra in 1988, some 23 years after the war, when Indian authorities learned of the event through an account of the encounter published in John Fricker’s book “Battle for Pakistan.” Another Starfighter had already been lost on the previous night when its pilot inadvertently flew into the ground whilst attempting a landing approach in a dust storm over Peshawar, although the pilot managed to survive, having been thrown clear of the aircraft during the impact. On 21 September, an Indian Air Force Canberra was intercepted at 33,000ft and shot down with a Sidewinder. The bomber’s pilot ejected and was made a POW while the navigator was unable to bail out and was killed in action.


    This was the first “kill” achieved by an F-104A at night after a number of near misses. F-104s were also used during 1965 for low level, daylight reconnaissance missions over the IAF’s air bases. The speed of the Starfighter gave the Indians no time to react to each incursion, effectively making the Starfighters invulnerable to interception. The F-104s were also employed as escorts for the much slower Lockheed RT-33 reconnaissance fighters that were used for photographic missions deep into India’s territory, the presence of Starfighters virtually guaranteeing that no air opposition would be encountered. Six F-104 pilots received gallantry awards during the 1965 War and a few years later the Starfighter went into battle yet again after a second conflict began in 1971. This time the F-104A was also used for deep penetration strikes against enemy airfields and radar. It was no surprise that the United States Government imposed an embargo on further arms sales to both India and Pakistan as soon as the 1965 war had started. Little consideration was given to the practicalities of this action, and it ignored the fact that India was a long-time ally of the Soviet Union, using very little American military equipment, meaning that the sanctions degraded the ability of only the Pakistani Armed Forces. The PAF fleet of F-104s was severely affected by the arms embargoes and it soon became increasingly difficult to maintain a serviceable fleet of aircraft. By 1972 the PAF concluded that it was no longer possible to keep the Starfighters in service in any significant quantity and so the F-104A fleet was withdrawn. Without restrictions of spares and other support, it is possible that Pakistan’s F-104A aircraft might have remained active for at least another decade - something that would have been quite remarkable for a machine that had suffered such a troubled beginning.


    F-104As were also supplied to the Republic of China Air Force and two of these aircraft were transferred to Pakistan as replacements for the machines that had been lost during the first conflict with India. Further Starfighters were also supplied to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, with 18 machines being delivered during 1969. At least ten aircraft were temporarily transferred to Pakistan during hostilities in 1971 although few details have emerged about the role played by these aircraft, and it is not known if they participated in combat missions against Indian aircraft. It is also open to question whether they were flown by Pakistan’s or Jordan’s pilots. However, it is believed that two F-104As were shot down on the last day of the conflict on 17 December, and although loss claims vary, it seems likely that five PAF aircraft and four Jordanian aircraft were ultimately lost during the Starfighter’s time in service. Unlike Pakistan, Jordan (free of any arms embargo) maintained its Starfighter fleet until 1975 when Mirages were finally introduced as
    replacements.

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    Magazine Cover:

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    @syedali73 @MastanKhan @Indus Falcon @Zarvan @Horus @Windjammer @Sage @Indus Falcon @Side-Winder @nomi007 @Psychic @Imran Khan @waz @Umair Nawaz @SquadronLeaderDin @Ulla @RAMPAGE @HRK @dexter ............ That's all I remember for now, tag others.
     
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  2. Fenrir

    Fenrir PROFESSIONAL

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    How'd the PAF like the F-104? They had a poor safety record and reputation in European nations and the Canadian military, the Germans even coined the F-104 "Witwenmacher," or widow-maker due to its high Class A (write-off) mishap ratio.

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  3. Indus Falcon

    Indus Falcon SENIOR MEMBER

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    F-104 Starfighters in PAKISTAN AIR FORCE

    Columnist Gp Capt. SM HALI gives a historical review of the famous STARFIGHTER in the PAF battle fleet.

    Introduction

    Pakistan, which remained an important ally of the United States throughout the cold war was the first non-NATO country to equip with the F-104 Starfighter. The F-104 As and Bs provided to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) under the US Mutual Defence Assistance Programme entered service in 1961 and continued to fly until 1972 when dwindling spares support forced their early retirement. In all twelve F-104As and two F-104 Bs were transferred to Pakistan

    At PAF’s request, all its F-104As were refitted with the M-61 Gatling 20 mm gun, whereas its counterparts in the USAF had been divested of their guns on the assumption that all post-Korea air combat would occur at high speeds where only the wing tip-mounted Sidewinder missiles would be effective. The PAF’s foresight was amply rewarded in actual combat and the USAF too reverted to having machine guns as mandatory equipment on all its fighters in due course. The newer GWE- J-79-11 engine was also installed on the aircraft. This made the Pakistan F-104s somewhat unique: they had the gun and being the lightest of F-104 series with a more advanced J-79 engine enjoyed the best thrust-to-weight ratio.

    The only PAF unit to be equipped with the F-104 was No 9 Air Superiority Squadron. The squadron flies the F-16 today. The in-commission rate of the F-104 during the first five years of service was over 80 % and all its systems performed with high reliability. The fighter was employed in the air-to-air role by the PAF and was used extensively for aerial gunnery against both banner targets and the Dart targets with excellent scores. In strafing attacks the M-61 gun was superbly accurate.

    The F-104 Starfighters remained in service with Pakistan Air Force for twelve years and flew 11,690 hours. During the 1965 Pakistan-India War, the F-104s flew a total of 246 hours and 45 minutes while during the 1971 War, the F-104s flew a total of 103 hours and forty-five minutes.

    1965 Pakistan-India War

    During the 1965 War, PAF was forced to rely on its small force of F-104A Starfighters as high altitude interceptors and in its night fighting role, using the radar of its AN/ASG-14T1 fire-control system, in conjunction with Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

    After 1 September, the F-104s were extremely active in Air Defence and Air Superiority Operations, but of the 246 missions flown by F-104s during hostilities, 42 were at night against the IAF Canberras. The rudimentary fire-control radar met the Soviet high altitude bomber threat of the Cold War era for which it was designed but it could not illuminate small targets against ground clutter. The standard high speed intercept tactic employed by PAF’s F-104 pilots was to approach their targets from below, with a typical height differential of 2-3,000 feet, against a target they wished to acquire at a range of 10-15 kilomenters. This limitation was well known to the Canberra jet bomber pilots of IAF who attacked targets in Pakistan during the 1965 war. They adopted a standard hi-lo-hi profile to minimize the threat of interception. During most of their inbound and outbound flight over Pakistani territory the IAF Canberras would stay below about 1000 feet during their approach and exit phases. This posed a difficult night intercept problem. The PAF’s F-104s had in these circumstances to be used in an unconventional low-altitude intercept profile that severely challenged the capabilities of its airborne radar. To pick up the low flying bombers on their scope the F-104 pilots had to get down to about 300-500 feet above the ground to point their radars upward and clear of ground clutter at the enemy bombers. The problem was aggravated by the Canberra’s tail warning audio alarm that would go off the moment an F-104 got to a near astern position, and enable the bomber to take timely evasive action to shake off its pursuer.

    The F-104s were highly dreaded by the Indian Air Force (IAF). On 3rd September, 1965, even before the War began, an Indian Gnat surrendered to an F-104 which forced it to land at the abandoned airfield of Pasrur (in Pakistan). Its pilot Squadron Leader Brijpal Singh Sikand became a POW.

    On 6 September, two Starfighters were sent on dawn patrol from Sargodha. They were vectored by Sakesar Radar towards 4 IAF Mysteres engaged in bomb and rocket attacks against a stationary passenger train at Gakkhar railway station. One of the F-104 pilots was forced to return to base with a radio failure but the other pilot, Flight Lieutenant Aftab Alam Khan dived his F-104 with full after burners, going supersonically through the Mysteres formation which promptly scattered. The Indian aircraft tried to escape at about 50 feet above the ground but they were no match for the Starfighter. Aftab destroyed one Mysteres with his Sidewinder missile thus achieving one of the world’s first air victories by a mach 2 combat aircraft.

    The other F-104 pilot, Flight Lieutenant Amjad Khan, who had missed his chance the previous day, made amends on 7 September. He was scrambled in an F-104 at about 05:15 hours and directed by Sakesar radar towards an incoming raid at Sargodha. He made visual contact with the IAF Mysteres and headed towards them. By the time he caught up with them, the Indian aircraft were 6-8 miles away from Sargodha, flying at 150-200 feet on a south-easterly heading towards India. As the Mysteres jettisoned their drop tanks, Flight Lieutenant Amjad Hussain positioned himself behind one of them and released a GAR-8 missile, which went straight into the ground. The Mystere then began to dogfight with the Starfighter, which used its superior climb and acceleration to lift the combat from ground level to about 7,000 feet to gain room for manoeuvre. Hussain fired his cannons and was delighted to see the shell hit the Mystere. The Mystere pilot showed commendable courage in staying with the F-104, and despite being mortally wounded, scored several cannon strikes on the Starfighter. Flight Lieutenant Amjad Hussain managed to eject safely and reached his Base. This was the first and only Starfighter to be lost through enemy action in the 1965 war. The Indian pilot Squadron Leader A.B. Devayya was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra in 1988, twenty three years after the war, when Indian authorities learnt of the IAF pilot’s valour through an account of the encounter published in John Fricker’s book Battle for Pakistan, published in 1978.

    On 21 September, Squadron Leader Jamal A Khan, intercepted an Indian Air Force Canberra at about 33,000 feet and shot it down with a Sidewinder near Fazilka, inside Pakistani territory. The bomber’s pilot, Flight Lieutenant Manmohan Lowe ejected and was made POW while its navigator, Flying Officer A K Kapor could not bail out and was killed in action. The British made Canberra, unlike its American counterpart the Martin B-57, had no ejection seat for the navigator. This was the first kill achieved by an F-104 at night after a number of near misses due to factors described earlier.

    F-104s were also used during 1965 for low level, daylight reconnaissance missions over the IAF air bases. The speed of the Starfighter gave the Indians no time to react. The F-104s were also employed as escorts for the slow Lockheed RT-33 reconnaissance fighters on photographic missions deep into Indian territory, the presence of Starfighters virtually guaranteeing that no air opposition would be encountered. Six F-104 pilots received gallantry awards during the 1965 War.

    1971 Pakistan-India War

    Air operations in 1971 Pakistan-India War commenced with a preemptive strike by PAF. In the 1971 War the F-104 was also used for deep penetration strikes against enemy airfields and radars. Two F-104s each attacked Amritsar and Faridkot Indian Air Force Radars. The attack on Faridkot Radar was led by Wing Commander Arif Iqbal, who not only damaged the Radar but also shot down an IAF Krishak aircraft.

    On 4 December, Squadron Leaders Amanullah and Rashid Bhatti attacked Amritsar Radar. They met with stiff resistance but managed to shoot down two aircraft, an Indian Gnat and an Su-7. The pilot of the Gnat, Flight Lieutenant J Preira was Killed in Action. On 08 December, Flight Lieutenant Manzoor Bokhari intercepted an IAF Canberra and shot it down. On 10 December, Wing Commander Arif Iqbal, while attacking the Indian Harbour of Okha, shot down an Alize aircraft of Indian Navy. Its crew members, Lieutenant Commander Ashok Roy, Lieutenant H S Sirohi and AC O Vijayan were killed in action. PAF lost two F-104s along with their pilots, Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat and Flight Lieutenant Samad Changezi both were awarded gallantry awards of Sitara-e-Jurat (roughly equivalent to the British Distinguished Flying Cross). Flight Lieutenant Bharat B Soni, a MiG-21 pilot was credited with having shot down Wing Commander Middlecoat while Flight Lieutenant Arun K Dutta, another MiG-21 pilot was awarded the claim of having shot down Flight Lieutenant Samad Changezi.

    The US Government imposed an embargo on arms sales to both India and Pakistan as soon as the 1965 war began. No consideration was given to the fact that India, a long-time ally of the Soviet Union, hardly used any American military equipment and the sanctions exclusively degraded the combat potential of only the Pakistani Armed Forces. The PAF fleet of F-104s was particularly hard hit by the arms embargoes. Eventually it became impossible to maintain a reasonable in-commission rate on the F-104s and the PAF decided to phase it out of service in late 1972. This ended the era of Pakistan Air Force’s first mach-2 combat aircraft.
    F-104 Starfighters in PAKISTAN AIR FORCE
     
  4. IrbiS

    IrbiS FULL MEMBER

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    PAF operated only a dozen for a little more than a decade, front-line service from 1961 till 72-73 as we were under sanctions by U.S since 1965. It became difficult to maintain after 5-6 years of sanctions yet not a single frame crashed due to technical issues. So it was retired timely due to spare issues plus we had been flying Mirage since 67 and India Mig-21 since 65, so it became irrelevant


    I opened this link few hours ago but glanced now after your post and guess what? looks like the magazine guys also copied from same article o_O
     
  5. SquadronLeaderDin

    SquadronLeaderDin FULL MEMBER

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    image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
     
  6. Indus Falcon

    Indus Falcon SENIOR MEMBER

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    PAF F-104 (Starfighter) during the War of 1965.


    Pakistan Air Force (Retd.) Air Vice Marshal Farooq Umar flying the Lockheed F-104 (Starfighter) at the orders of the (late) Air Marshal Nur Khan over Amritsar & breaking the sound barrier (twice) a day before the War of 1965.
     
  7. Indus Falcon

    Indus Falcon SENIOR MEMBER

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    Captured Indian Folland Gnat in PAF Museum
    IMG_20131225_150828.jpg IMG_20131225_150913.jpg



    F104 at PAF museum Karachi
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    @MastanKhan I think was the only PDF member to see the GNAT when it flew over his head, on it's way to surrender!:yahoo::yahoo::yahoo::yahoo:
     
  8. Metanoia

    Metanoia FULL MEMBER

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    If I remember correctly...the story with this GNAT was that the pilot was trying to escape but he got so intimidated with how the Starfighter got up to it with it's sheer speed that he surrendered. True?
     
  9. Indus Falcon

    Indus Falcon SENIOR MEMBER

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    “Run … it’s a 104”


    The loss of four Vampires on the opening day of the ’65 War was a major blow to the morale of the IAF and, it was felt in all quarters that something had to be done urgently. A grudge fight was, therefore, planned and the nimble Gnat was chosen as the most suitable fighter. Its small size, good turning ability and fast acceleration were seen to be lethal attributes vis-à-vis PAF’s main fighter, the Sabre. A detachment of eight Gnats from Ambala-based No 23 Squadron was flown to Pathankot and Sqn Ldr William Greene was deputed to lead it. Greene had done his Fighter Leader’s Course from UK and was busy imparting his air combat skills to the Squadron pilots when the war broke out. The more senior Flight Commander, Sqn Ldr Brij Pal Singh Sikand held no grudge in ceding command of the detachment to Greene, in view of the latter’s experience.

    Soon after landing at Pathankot on the evening of 2nd September, Greene was told plainly in an Operations brief that the patrolling Sabres had to be tackled at any cost. The plan consisted of four Mystères luring the Sabres, while eight low flying Gnats popped up and pounced from two different directions. While the plan was bold, the large number of aircraft demanded a high order of formation integrity and radio discipline. Also, the operation had to be conducted swiftly since the Gnat’s limited fuel did not permit a prolonged turning fight.

    As the IAF had expected, the morning of 3rd September saw PAF Combat Air Patrols over Akhnur area. Pak Army’s 7 Division had put in a request for air cover while its reinforcing elements forded River Tawi during the offensive against Akhnur. At first light, two Sabres and a Starfighter started a vigil which was continued an hour later by another similar trio. The Sabre pair included Flt Lt Yusuf Ali Khan and Flg Off Abdul Khaliq of No 11 Squadron. The singleton was flown by No 9 Squadron’s Flg Off Abbas Mirza, whose schoolboy looks belied his proficiency at handling the aerodynamic wonder that was the F-104 Starfighter.

    After patrolling for a while, the Sabres were warned about four bogeys approaching Akhnur at high altitude. Outnumbered two to one, Yusuf decided to go for them anyway and asked for intercept instructions. Before he could pick contact with the reported bogeys up in the sky, his eyes caught a glimpse of four Gnats zooming from below. Yusuf immediately ordered jettisoning of drop tanks but one of his wingmen’s tanks did not go. While groping with the switches to sort the problem, Abdul Khaliq lost sight of his Leader and, in effect ended up being a liability. Yusuf, therefore, instructed him to head for home and impulsively decided to handle the complex situation all by himself.

    The four Mystères, having apparently lured the patrolling Sabres, turned north and exited the battle area, leaving the Gnats to strike from behind. Led by Greene, the front Gnat section consisted of Flg Off M R Murdeshwar as No 2, Sqn Ldr Sikand as No 3 and Flg Off V S Pathania as No 4. Following instructions of Wg Cdr Dandapani, the seasoned controller at Amritsar Radar, the Gnat formation continued to look out for the Sabres but to no avail. Yusuf, in the meantime, dove down unnoticed from almost 30,000 ft and without much ado, was able to place his missile sighting reticle on one of the Gnats[1]. A loud growl indicating Sidewinder lock-on was just what Yusuf could have asked for, in this one-versus-many scenario. Ready to press the missile firing button, he was rattled by a series of thuds on his aircraft. Confounded at what could have gone wrong at the vital moment, he looked back only to see a pair of Gnats behind him! The Gnats that were in front, meanwhile, broke to the left, obviously having been warned by the rear pair just in time.

    Flt Lt Trevor Keelor and Flt Lt S Krishnaswamy, who were trailing the front Gnat section, had been able to sandwich Yusuf’s Sabre while he was busy with his quarry. Keelor opened up with the Gnat’s 30mm cannon causing extensive damage to the Sabre. A large portion of the elevator had been blown off, but Yusuf continued dogfighting somewhat shakily. Hearing his plight on the radio, Abdul Khaliq made an attempt to rejoin the fight, as he had not gone much far. Luckily, the Sabres were able to pair up again and they continued to help each other fight their way out of the cloud of six Gnats[2].

    Flt Lt Farooq Haider, who had been controlling the fight from Sakesar Radar, apprehended the gravity of the situation and directed Mirza’s nearby Starfighter into the midst of ongoing combat. The fearsome reputation of the Starfighter was not unfounded, it appeared, as the Gnats went helter skelter on sighting it. Abdul Khaliq, who at this time was being chased by Pathania, thus managed to get a lucky reprieve.

    “Pajh oye … 104 eeee,” Sikand shouted out to Pathania in inimitable Punjabi (the English translation, “Run … it’s a 104” just cannot grasp the hint of mad rush in the expression)[3]. The ‘104’ did not stay in the fight for long as the idea was to charge in at supersonic speed and try a pot shot or, simply overwhelm the adversaries with sheer awe[4]. Mirza did his act a couple of times before leaving the scene; it had a salutary effect, as the dogfight broke off and the Gnats started egressing. Sikand, who had initiated the panic call, broke off too, but in an opposite direction, thus losing contact with his wingman as well as the rest of the formation.

    At Sakesar Radar, Farooq was keeping abreast of the situation. Anticipating the need for reinforcement, he had scrambled another Starfighter to the scene. Flown by Flt Lt Hakimullah, it arrived a bit late for the Gnats which had turned away. One Gnat, however, was seen to be behaving strangely; having gone back, it turned about and re-entered Pakistani airspace. Hakimullah, who was supersonic at this time, was directed towards the errant intruder. Though Hakimullah could not sight the tiny Gnat at the speed he was flying, he learnt from Sakesar that his adversary had slowed down to what appeared like landing speed. Hakimullah set up orbit over the area, wondering if a forced landing was in progress. Shortly thereafter, to his utter surprise, he picked contact with a Gnat taxiing down the disused Pasrur airstrip near Sialkot.

    When Greene and his formation members landed, they were in celebratory mood for what was believed to be Keelor’s kill. They were expecting Sikand, the gregarious fellow that he was, to join in any time for a hearty beer session. Little did they know that their Flight Commander was in Pakistani custody following a bizarre episode.

    During interrogation Sikand claimed that almost all his systems failed soon after he was separated from his formation. Once he had lost visual contact with everyone, he tried to communicate on the radio, but found it dead. His guns too had jammed, fuel flow had become erratic and the fuel quantity was low; incredibly, his compass also went berserk and he lost his bearings. If there was any hope of making it back, the Starfighters snuffed it. Under the circumstances, the airstrip that he saw was a godsend, no matter that he stepped off his Gnat as a vanquished airman.

    Yusuf somehow managed to keep his badly damaged aircraft in control and, extricated out of the battle area alongwith his wingman. With marginal fuel as well as a dead radio, he made it to Sargodha; however, after landing he discovered that there was no hydraulic pressure for braking, and the Sabre ended up in the over-run arrester barrier without further damage. For having fought single-handedly against six Gnats and, also for recovering a badly damaged aircraft, Yusuf was awarded a Sitara-i-Jur’at[5]. Keelor, who claimed having seen Yusuf’s aircraft go down, was promptly awarded a Vir Chakra for what was believed to be IAF’s first kill. The picture of the damaged Sabre released by the PAF told a different story, though.

    Sikand was promptly apprehended by Pak Army troops and had to spend the next five months as a POW. After his repatriation, the IAF somehow took a light view of the incident and, Sikand resumed his career; he eventually rose to the rank of an Air Marshal[6]. His aircraft was flown to Sargodha by Sqn Ldr Sa’ad Hatmi, who carried out several evaluation flights after the war. Hatmi, who had flown the Gnat extensively while on an exchange assignment with the RAF, did not find the IAF version any different. He also maintained that the Gnat was no ‘Sabre Slayer’[7] when it came to dogfighting. After its brief service with the new air arm, Gnat IE1083 was consigned to the PAF Museum, where it continues to bemuse visitors with one of the bizarre episodes of the 1965 War.

    _________________________
    [1] Murdeshwar was flying this Gnat.
    [2] Two of the eight Gnats planned for the mission had aborted due to technical reasons.
    [3] Farooq heard Sikand’s call on the radio-monitoring equipment while the interception was in progress.
    [4] Krishnaswamy, for instance, recalled being so awe-struck at the sight of the Starfighter that he passed up a shot of opportunity as the aircraft went by.
    [5] Yusuf lived upto the citation for gallantry when he shot down a Gnat flown by Flt Lt A N Kale near Ferozepur on 13th Sep.
    [6] In a strange turn of fortunes, Sikand was able to put the scandalous incident behind him, although it is said that his influential father-in-law, a Central Government minister, was instrumental in his reinstatement. Sikand was given command of No 22 Squadron, which he led during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. His honour was redeemed to an extent when two Gnats of his Squadron downed two PAF Sabres on the Eastern Front.
    [7] It must be conceded that the Gnat was a formidable fighter, as the IAF nickname suggests. In the few decisive Gnat vs Sabre engagements of the ’65 War, Gnats downed three Sabres and damaged one, while Sabres downed two Gnats and damaged one.

    This article is an excerpted chapter from Air Cdre Kaiser Tufail's book, Great Air Battles of Pakistan Air Force, published by Ferozsons (Pvt) Ltd, 2005. It was also published in the daily newspaper, The News International on 6 Sep 2003.

    Aeronaut: “Run … it’s a 104”
     
  10. undercover JIX

    undercover JIX SENIOR MEMBER

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    used to climb up on little pahari and stay there for hours, pointing towards the sky starfighter looks superb and alive. Masroor Base.
     
  11. Hamza junaid 82

    Hamza junaid 82 FULL MEMBER

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    Does any one know where is the f104 star fighter flown by hakimullah khan who forced the IAF plane to land ?