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Pakistan Army Aviation Corps - Updated

Shabi1

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Considering we spent all these years fighting insurgents why didn't we ever try getting the A10 warthogs for PAA?

@Windjammer @PanzerKiel
Why don't we just get Super Tucanos then? Or make something like that on our own? A turboprop with large fuel capacity and the ability to drop guided munitions, throw in a MAWS and you have the perfect COIN aircraft... Cheap, reliable and low operational costs, plus it would be faster than a gunship, and can land in unprepared terrain, unlike a fighter jet.

Basically troops could have 24/7 aerial support, always Oncall.
For COIN if UCAV drones available, they are better. If there is ever a need for a gunship, CN-295s gunship variant like the ones Jordan is getting would be worth a look but Pakistan in my opinion is adequately covered for COIN. So no need for additional platforms.

Azerbaijan-Armenia war has proven effectiveness of armed drones.
 

Moon

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For COIN if UCAV drones available, they are better
I'd say otherwise, drones are good and all, but don't expect any sane nation to drop a guided munition worth thousands of dollars on some rag-tag terrorist, we need long endurance UAVs for ISTAR, the actual attack should come from on-call COIN aircrafts, a gun strafe or a salvo of unguided rockets is more than enough, keeping capability to drop PGMs is a plus, but needs only to be used on HVTs.
A-5 could have been an option
A-5s were too unreliable, short-legged and crude. You need something that can stay in the air for 5-7 hours. Plus jets aren't meant to take off or land on unprepared runways.
MFI-17 and K-8, both can carry weapons and ordnance.
I haven't seen them use it though, just showcases.
 
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Signalian

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A-5s were too unreliable, short-legged and crude. You need something that can stay in the air for 5-7 hours. Plus jets aren't meant to take off or land on unprepared runways.
None of the issues you mentioned would have hampered any COIN Ops.
and same for the Indian armor threat entering Pakistan's deserts.
 

Moon

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None of the issues you mentioned would have hampered any COIN Ops.
and same for the Indian armor threat entering Pakistan's deserts.
A-5s were very unreliable, they've literally crashed during Parades. Plus you'd need to be loiter in the air for long periods of time, to monitor terrorist movement. Furthermore having a twin-engined jet aircraft becomes a maintenance nightmare (spare parts aren't being produced, crew is untrained, especially on unprepared airfields).
And I don't think A-5s had EO/IR capability, nor had MFDs, or the ability to transmit real-time data to on-ground station.
 

Shabi1

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I'd say otherwise, drones are good and all, but don't expect any sane nation to drop a guided munition worth thousands of dollars on some rag-tag terrorist, we need long endurance UAVs for ISTAR, the actual attack should come from on-call COIN aircrafts, a gun strafe or a salvo of unguided rockets is more than enough, keeping capability to drop PGMs is a plus, but needs only to be used on HVTs.

A-5s were too unreliable, short-legged and crude. You need something that can stay in the air for 5-7 hours. Plus jets aren't meant to take off or land on unprepared runways.

I haven't seen them use it though, just showcases.
If you consider flight time expense drones are the cheapest to fly and they carry good optics. COIN is more about observation and precision strike.

If you need to hit them hard with cheap rockets and guns that is Close Air Support territory, for that purpose we have Helo gunships AH-1/MI-35/Fennec/T-129 and attack jets F-7PG/Mirage/JF-17.

Armed turbo prop gunships are cheaper alternatives/compromises if you are unable to get UCAVs and cant afford attack jets. A in between a Gunship helo and a attack jet. Jack of all, master of non.

For Pakistan's western border combination of F-7PGs, Mi-35s and drones should be enough.
 

iLION12345_1

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I think a distinction needs to be made here between CAS and precision ground strikes.

CAS is close air support, think of it as aircraft providing support to troops actively fighting on the ground, Pakistan does not need a dedicated CAS jet/plane since there have been few instances where such a bird would be anymore useful than the large fleet of attack helicopters PAA operates, which have been our principal tool for CAS in the WoT. In the mountainous and forest terrain of these areas, helicopters work better for CAS than jet aircraft anyways as they can engage for longer without having to reposition for approach after every run. UAVs can also be used for close air support, but they lack machine guns and cannot carry the same amount of ordinance to stay and help for long, hence they’re better for precision strikes.

Precision ground strikes are different from CAS, they are generally used to take out a pre-determined target like a bunker, a gathering of enemies, a base, so on. A proper fighter jet is the best tool for precision ground strikes, something like a mirage, an F-16 or a JF-17 is much better suited to such strikes than a dedicated CAS plane like A-10 due to their speed and advanced targeting equipment, even a UAV is better off in that case as it’s a much cheaper solution for the same result. For precision strikes Pakistan has used both its fighters and UCAVs in the war on terror.

Leaving COIN ops which are now much rarer in Pakistan than they were in the 2000s and 2010s, in conventional warfare Pakistan would still benefit more from putting money into its attack helicopter fleet for CAS (as we are clearly doing) than it would trying to buy a dedicated CAS aircraft, as modern multi role fighter jets are taking over the dedicated CAS aircraft role around the world anyways. UCAVs are not as useful for any kind of strike in a balanced conventional war (balanced as in one side doesn’t have overwhelming air superiority) as they are defenseless against fighter aircraft, so fighter jets would be used for precision strikes and sometimes CAS. While helicopters would be used for CAS.


Anything the PA buys it needs to justify its usage for both COIN and conventional Ops, otherwise it risks going bankrupt making separate purchases for both, that’s why stuff like gunships and dedicated CAS aircraft are off the cards. You also have to consider the countries doctrine and how these things fit into it, if at all. Something like the K8 or MFI-395, or even something like a super Tucano can carry armaments and might be cheaper to use, but is it actually going to be cheaper in the long run when they will need to retrain crews, get more of said aircraft to use for attack roles because the current ones are used for training and then also have to deal with the fact that they cannot do strikes as quickly and as precisely as proper fighters as they cannot carry as much ordinance. it’s little things like these that end up effecting the decisions that are made at the end of the day. We have to look at what will be useful and cost effective from the perspective of the Pakistani armed forces, not from the perspective of another country that may have bought and used a similar system.
 
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Signalian

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A-5s were very unreliable, they've literally crashed during Parades. Plus you'd need to be loiter in the air for long periods of time, to monitor terrorist movement. Furthermore having a twin-engined jet aircraft becomes a maintenance nightmare (spare parts aren't being produced, crew is untrained, especially on unprepared airfields).
And I don't think A-5s had EO/IR capability, nor had MFDs, or the ability to transmit real-time data to on-ground station.
Loitering is done by UAV which identifies targets and then strike aircraft or gunship can be sent in. PAA will be getting twin engine gunships while A-5 would have been a transition from PAF setup.
 

Moon

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Loitering is done by UAV which identifies targets and then strike aircraft or gunship can be sent in. PAA will be getting twin engine gunships while A-5 would have been a transition from PAF setup.
By loitering I mean remaining airborne for long periods of time, especially for SOFs, eg: SSG operations. Either way, A-5s are too old.
If you consider flight time expense drones are the cheapest to fly and they carry good optics. COIN is more about observation and precision strike.

If you need to hit them hard with cheap rockets and guns that is Close Air Support territory, for that purpose we have Helo gunships AH-1/MI-35/Fennec/T-129 and attack jets F-7PG/Mirage/JF-17.

Armed turbo prop gunships are cheaper alternatives/compromises if you are unable to get UCAVs and cant afford attack jets. A in between a Gunship helo and a attack jet. Jack of all, master of non.

For Pakistan's western border combination of F-7PGs, Mi-35s and drones should be enough.
Problem is, gunships are extremely vulnerable in mountainous terrain, especially to small arms fire. They're also slow (slower than an aircraft), cost a lot more per sortie. And don't have a lot of endurance. Plus they need a lot more maintenance.
 

prothought

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A-5 could have been an option.

Network centric capability is essential through data link for surveillance, monitoring, tracking, targeting and eliminating targets for all aviation assets sent for a specific mission.
If LINK-17 has been integrated into PAA assets, that would allow helicopters of different types (and UAVs) to operate in conjunction with each other.
Pardon me for my novice and possibly irrelevant question. If we have netcentric capabilities and our UAVs are a part of that, why don’t (or can’t) we monitor North Waziristan and sensitive parts of Balochistan round the clock by using that capability. I mean why don’t we target the terrorists when they are setting up IEDs, going to their hide-outs, and/or crossing the border with Afghanistan/Iran. I think only a dozen or so UAVs need to be in the air streaming in live 24/7. That puzzles me a lot why we have to do IBOs rather than getting those terrorists when they are out and exposed.
 

Bilal Khan (Quwa)

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Why don't we just get Super Tucanos then? Or make something like that on our own? A turboprop with large fuel capacity and the ability to drop guided munitions, throw in a MAWS and you have the perfect COIN aircraft... Cheap, reliable and low operational costs, plus it would be faster than a gunship, and can land in unprepared terrain, unlike a fighter jet.

Basically troops could have 24/7 aerial support, always Oncall.
The PAF did look at the Hurkus-C, but ultimately, the cost of maintaining so few specialized aircraft wasn't worth it. However, an AMX-type aircraft could at least support a conventional warfare role too (e.g., deploy SOWs, support anti-armour operations, provide cover to the Army, etc).

I think one aspect that gets lost is the gap Pressler caused to the PAF. Pre-1990, the PAF was thinking of only two things: 'multi-role fighter' (F-16) and 'attack' (Mirage III/5 and A-5). In my opinion, the ultimate vision was to build the F-16 fleet to 150-180 by 2005-ish (pre-Pressler). This was the approach every big F-16 operator -- i.e., Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Netherlands, Taiwan, etc -- was taking, it wasn't different for us except we would've taken longer to get to that point.

With the F-16s settling the multi-role fighter issue in spades, the PAF would've had the luxury to tinker with niche aircraft for the attack role. You wouldn't have to worry about your most vital needs as the F-16 would've covered 90% of them. This is where something like the AMX would've fit really well, or even the Tornado or JH-7A @SQ8
 
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Desert Fox 1

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Helicopters have EW, Recce,network centric capability and survivability in a contested space (both EW and AD wise) that an A10 or tucano can only dream of
 

Moon

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The PAF did look at the Hurkus-C, but ultimately, the cost of maintaining so few specialized aircraft wasn't worth it. However, an AMX-type aircraft could at least support a conventional warfare role too (e.g., deploy SOWs, support anti-armour operations, provide cover to the Army, etc).

I think one aspect that gets lost is the gap Pressler caused to the PAF. Pre-1990, the PAF was thinking of only two things: 'multi-role fighter' (F-16) and 'attack' (Mirage III/5 and A-5). In my opinion, the ultimate vision was to build the F-16 fleet to 150-180 by 2005-ish (pre-Pressler). This was the approach every big F-16 operator -- i.e., Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Netherlands, Taiwan, etc -- was taking, it wasn't different for us except we would've taken longer to get to that point.

With the F-16s settling the multi-role fighter issue in spades, the PAF would've had the luxury to tinker with niche aircraft for the attack role. You wouldn't have to worry about your most vital needs as the F-16 would've covered 90% of them. This is where something like the AMX would've fit really well, or even the Tornado or JH-7A @SQ8
Seems F-16s have caused more disruption in PAF than even Indians. It seems to be at the center for all of PAF's shortcomings.
But what I'm saying is, having an aircraft that has a low per-sortie cost could encourage leaders into using it more often, especially in providing troops backup during long firefights (case in point 2 weeks back in Marwar)
Helicopters have EW, Recce,network centric capability and survivability in a contested space (both EW and AD wise) that an A10 or tucano can only dream of
How does a slow helicopter have a higher survivability rate than a nimble turboprop? I have poor understanding about helis in general, are they not more expensive to maintain, fly and repair and whatnot? How are they better than a turboprop in providing ground support? especially in case of Bln?
 

Bilal Khan (Quwa)

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Seems F-16s have caused more disruption in PAF than even Indians. It seems to be at the center for all of PAF's shortcomings.
But what I'm saying is, having an aircraft that has a low per-sortie cost could encourage leaders into using it more often, especially in providing troops backup during long firefights (case in point 2 weeks back in Marwar)
That's the promise of turboprop aircraft, for sure, but it's not the only cost factor.

There's also a cost to maintaining that attack unit. In the PAF's case, the potential requirement for such a plane was at most 12 aircraft, but it'd need an entire support infrastructure to keep it plus its subsystems (e.g., EO/IR turret, air-to-surface munitions, etc) running.

It would've worked out if the PAF opted for the same turboprop plane for its trainer requirements, but it has no immediate plan to replace the T-37. It might look into it again in a few years, but only after it settles some other (i.e., external threat-focused) matters first.

...and yea, missing out on the F-16s was a huge blow. Like a lot of air forces, the PAF had staked its future on it, but it was the PAF that actually had to suffer through the "what if" scenario due to Pressler.
 

Moon

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That's the promise of turboprop aircraft, for sure, but it's not the only cost factor.

There's also a cost to maintaining that attack unit. In the PAF's case, the potential requirement for such a plane was at most 12 aircraft, but it'd need an entire support infrastructure to keep it plus its subsystems (e.g., EO/IR turret, air-to-surface munitions, etc) running.

It would've worked out if the PAF opted for the same turboprop plane for its trainer requirements, but it has no immediate plan to replace the T-37. It might look into it again in a few years, but only after it settles some other (i.e., external threat-focused) matters first.

...and yea, missing out on the F-16s was a huge blow. Like a lot of air forces, the PAF had staked its future on it, but it was the PAF that actually had to suffer through the "what if" scenario due to Pressler.
Man that's disappointing, so no relief in sight for FC and Troops on Western border
:(.
Especially since Afghanistan is going to burn hot after Americans leave. Terrorists have already got their hands on bleeding edge equipment and we are yet to develop network centric capabilities, nor do we have the ability to conduct long-term surveillance in the vastness of Balochistan.
If something like HAPS could make it into PAA, that'd greatly boost its ISTAR capabilities.
 

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