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The most realistic air superiority option for PAF

CriticalThought

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By Air Superiority do we mean having “Air Supremacy”?

Simply having better quality aircraft with better quality fighter pilots do not provide any advantage over the enemy unless the same are able to achieve ‘Air Supremacy’; where one side has control of the air and bombs the hell out of the opposing side without any serious opposition resulting in victory on the battlefield.

Realistically speaking; given the economic strength of India with more than $400-billion FE reserves and miserable state of Pakistan’s economy (FE reserves never reached even $30-billion); it would not be possible for Pakistan to ever have air force superior to or even at par with IAF in quantity or quality of the fighter aircraft. Hence, having ‘Air Superiority’ over India in the foreseeable future is nothing more than a ‘pipe dream’.

While we talk about buying this or that fighter in such and such numbers; we must not forget that military hardware costs a lot of money. A more realistic aim would be to make PAF strong enough to deny IAF control of the air/ air supremacy over the battlefield. Regrettably, in Pakistan’s current abysmal FE situation; even this target appears to be very difficult to achieve in the immediate future.

GOP’s first & foremost priority, therefore, must be to make Pakistan economically strong.
I argue that indigenous design can be done. Are we unable to put together an initial team that starts fabless production of indigenous designs and gradually move towards own fab tech backbone? It's the vision and confidence that we are lacking. Instead of creating huge infrastructure for unis, get together a team armed with the right tools
 

airmarshal

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It can be either Western option or Chinese.

Russian equipment is not reliable. It hasnt demonstrated as recently as in Syria, the capability yet to counter West's advanced, war tested weapons.

If not Western aircraft then Chinese as that is the only option available. Chinese technology will be close or inferior to Russian technology as you can see all major Chinese equipment is Russian copy.
 

CriticalThought

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It can be either Western option or Chinese.

Russian equipment is not reliable. It hasnt demonstrated as recently as in Syria, the capability yet to counter West's advanced, war tested weapons.

If not Western aircraft then Chinese as that is the only option available. Chinese technology will be close or inferior to Russian technology as you can see all major Chinese equipment is Russian copy.
Is it better to fly an inferior plane or a compromised plane? I also question this disparaging attitude towards Chinese products. Per info by @Oscar, even the Block 52 is having trouble detecting the Thunder on RWR.
 

niaz

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I argue that indigenous design can be done. Are we unable to put together an initial team that starts fabless production of indigenous designs and gradually move towards own fab tech backbone? It's the vision and confidence that we are lacking. Instead of creating huge infrastructure for unis, get together a team armed with the right tools
Honorable CriticalThought,

To achieve air superiority, one does not simply need large numbers of indigenous aircraft; one needs a large number of aircraft matching the best of the best that the enemy has.

Pakistan & China had signed the agreement for the development of Thunder back in 1995. Thunder first flew in the 23rd March parade in 2007 and the first Thunder Squadron, No 26; the Black Spiders was formed in 2010. That is 15 years later.

India & Russia signed an agreement to co-produce the 5th generation (Suk hoi -57/ Pak Fad) IN 2007. However, after 11 years, India pulled out of the program in 2018 after spending nearly 1,500 crore Indian Rupees primarily because the Russians were unable to produce a satisfactory engine for the FGFA (Indian version of the Pak Fa)

Do you seriously believe that Pakistan has the funds and technical expertise to design & produce and an indigenous fighter along with the suitable powerplant, capable of beating the 4+++ generation or 5th generation aircraft in sufficient numbers to make PAF capable of achieving 'Air Superiority' over IAF? And how long would it take?

If you do, I would say that you are being highly optimistic.
 

CriticalThought

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Honorable CriticalThought,

To achieve air superiority, one does not simply need large numbers of indigenous aircraft; one needs a large number of aircraft matching the best of the best that the enemy has.

Pakistan & China had signed the agreement for the development of Thunder back in 1995. Thunder first flew in the 23rd March parade in 2007 and the first Thunder Squadron, No 26; the Black Spiders was formed in 2010. That is 15 years later.

India & Russia signed an agreement to co-produce the 5th generation (Suk hoi -57/ Pak Fad) IN 2007. However, after 11 years, India pulled out of the program in 2018 after spending nearly 1,500 crore Indian Rupees primarily because the Russians were unable to produce a satisfactory engine for the FGFA (Indian version of the Pak Fa)

Do you seriously believe that Pakistan has the funds and technical expertise to design & produce and an indigenous fighter along with the suitable powerplant, capable of beating the 4+++ generation or 5th generation aircraft in sufficient numbers to make PAF capable of achieving 'Air Superiority' over IAF? And how long would it take?

If you do, I would say that you are being highly optimistic.
Ummmmn did u read OP?
 

airmarshal

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Pakistan has a defensive posture in its war strategy. I dont think ever had air superiority fighter in its calculations.

I m not disparaging towards Chinese. They have done very well in last of couple of decades. Chinese dont stage wars. They dont invade countries. So their weapons are not battle tested. Americans and Europeans are always finding new countries to attack every year. So their weapons are more developed, have been tested in real scenarios and thus are more reliable.

Just like Israel. Their law enforcement, crowd control and border management weapons are considered top of the line. You know why? Because Israel has Gaza Strip occupied as a test ground. They attack Gaza every year and thus they have improved their weapons such that police is most of US States have agreements with Israeli defence industry to acquire weapons and training. Without being disparaging to Chinese or Russians, can they match this?
 

ziaulislam

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To be honest it has been a journey of realization for me that I have shared with you guys in multiple threads.

Please don't treat it as trivial. @ziaulislam yes our situation is bad but shouldn't we have a conversation about where we want to be? And shouldn't we question the decades of bad decision making?

The question of interim fighter is on many minds and fifth gen is officially stated direction vis a vis Azm. If I feel there is a better direction, I feel the need to share it with my fellow countrymen. Please critique based on logic and facts
PAF has a clear mind
Its f16s, jf17 and keep some mirages flying

They will fit the bill(barely)

It will add 1 new sq every year in jf-17 put inflight refueling in it alot of fuel is consumed at take off immediately refueling after take off can extend the range, block 3 will address alot of issues

The issue in above is bad circumstances ..things beyond PAF control ..f16s were thrawted multiple times by strong lobbying by india in congress..used f16 might come to fruition soon.
 

Arsalan 345

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for engine and avionics,we need massive facilities and huge amount of money and integration is also difficult.this can't happen in a sudden.we must look our options.air superiority over pakistani airspace must be the target.paf must control entire pakistani airspace in case of war.indian cold start starts with air raids on pakistan by iaf.cold start will fail if we repel their fighters.best thing is to establish air superiority over entire pakistani air space.indian air space have large number of sams so it's useless to enter deep inside india.standoff weapons is needed.we also need sams and ambs but unfortunately pakistan don't think about abms.we must protect our air space at all cost.sams can destroy incoming indian fighter jets.long range sam is needed.anything closer to the border will not survive.sams should be placed at different places and we must place it far from border.only few needs to be closer to border.we can defeat india.indian ground forces will either surrender or retreat without iaf.we must damage iaf fighters in case of war.
 

Hakikat ve Hikmet

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for engine and avionics,we need massive facilities and huge amount of money and integration is also difficult.this can't happen in a sudden.we must look our options.air superiority over pakistani airspace must be the target.paf must control entire pakistani airspace in case of war.indian cold start starts with air raids on pakistan by iaf.cold start will fail if we repel their fighters.best thing is to establish air superiority over entire pakistani air space.indian air space have large number of sams so it's useless to enter deep inside india.standoff weapons is needed.we also need sams and ambs but unfortunately pakistan don't think about abms.we must protect our air space at all cost.sams can destroy incoming indian fighter jets.long range sam is needed.anything closer to the border will not survive.sams should be placed at different places and we must place it far from border.only few needs to be closer to border.we can defeat india.indian ground forces will either surrender or retreat without iaf.we must damage iaf fighters in case of war.
Don't forget ground/air/sea based EW systems!!! They come handy...
 

randomradio

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in the face of continuing IAF expansion.
Unfortunately, the opposite has been happening to date.

But PAF can try their hands on the J-10C. The Chinese seem to be looking for buyers.

While we talk about buying this or that fighter in such and such numbers; we must not forget that military hardware costs a lot of money. A more realistic aim would be to make PAF strong enough to deny IAF control of the air/ air supremacy over the battlefield. Regrettably, in Pakistan’s current abysmal FE situation; even this target appears to be very difficult to achieve in the immediate future.
Isn't PAF's objective air denial anyway?

Russian equipment is not reliable. It hasnt demonstrated as recently as in Syria, the capability yet to counter West's advanced, war tested weapons.
Of course. The Russians only conducted 40,000 sorties with a handful of Cold War era jets in 3 years after all. That number proves Russian jets are not reliable at all. :disagree:
 

ziaulislam

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This is what PAF should work on

New engine rd93 ma some increase in range with plus of CFTs and couple of extra hardpoints, AESA IRST HMD and there you have it..will still be cheaper than 8-9b $ for 2 sq
 

TOPGUN

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To be honest it has been a journey of realization for me that I have shared with you guys in multiple threads.

Please don't treat it as trivial. @ziaulislam yes our situation is bad but shouldn't we have a conversation about where we want to be? And shouldn't we question the decades of bad decision making?

The question of interim fighter is on many minds and fifth gen is officially stated direction vis a vis Azm. If I feel there is a better direction, I feel the need to share it with my fellow countrymen. Please critique based on logic and facts
Appreciate your concern and passion bro, but you are beating a dead horse you, me and all Pakistani members know what we are going to be looking at in the near future which is project Azm simply . Trivial, its not from anywhere just facts and that's the direction bro common.
 

gambit

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We need to go back to the basics. Air superiority means assured destruction of the enemy while ensuring survival of own plane, and keeping the plane available during war time.
Here it is...

- Air Dominance. The ability of an air force to compel other air forces to rearray themselves, usually into subordinate postures.

- Air Superiority. The ability of an air force to gain control of contested airspace, repeatedly if necessary, and if there are any losses, those losses would not pose a statistical deterrence to that ability.

- Air Supremacy. He flies, he dies.

The moment there is an invader, one's home airspace is immediately contested. In theory, one should have air supremacy over one's home airspace. So now the question is how dominant -- even in perception -- is that adversary air force. Within the nature of warfare, the uncertainty component is always high, often over the %50 threshold. The higher the uncertainty component, the more the skew towards increasing the perception of dominance by that adversary air force.

In simpler language, the less you know of his air force, the higher your estimation of him in terms of how he can compels you to array your forces to meet him.

In air warfare, there is no guerrilla warfare. The environment simply do not allows it. At sea and in the air, it will always be force-on-force engagements. A Cessna cannot conduct hit and run tactics against an F-15 and expects to survive. On land, guerrilla fighters have never won a war, at least not in the military dimensions. So let us put guerrilla warfare out of the equation.

Air Dominance

Perception contributes to how a force can dominate (or not) the battlefield. Perception can come from deception, propaganda, or actual history, or a blend of all three. Regarding the air war in Desert Storm, there was no question as to the dominance perception of US airpower. The historical factor was too overwhelming for US to need the use of deception and/or propaganda against the Iraqi leadership to convince them that US airpower is nothing to trifle with. The Iraqi Air Force had no choice but to rearray itself into a subordinate posture. It became reactive and more interested in self preservation of individual components than in organizing those individual components (combat aircrafts and pilots) into cohesive units readied to meet US forces vis-a-vis those force-on-force engagements. So just from perception alone, the Iraqi Air Force was defeated from Day One of the war.

Desert Storm maybe an extreme example, but extremes establishes limits for both ends of the ruler. US airpower vs Iraq airpower is one extreme. US and Iraq are industrialized powers where both have air forces. Pakistan vs Afghanistan establishes the other extreme where one industrialized power have an air force and the other does not.

An air force leadership must gauge its capabilities against potential adversaries, usually next door neighbors rather someone from the other side of the world, on this ruler. That gauging or estimation must come from intelligence. Flawed intelligence WILL produce false perceptions. The worst type of false perception is the immature type, or underestimation of the enemy AND overestimation of one's own capabilities.

So where on this ruler lies the Pakistan vs India air forces scenario? Based upon public information, this scenario nowhere approaches that of Desert Storm for either side on this ruler. Both are industrialized powers with capable air forces. An overestimation of Indian airpower will compel Pakistan to array its units in increasing reactive rather than proactive postures. Likewise for India in its estimation of Pakistan's airpower for the array of its units. Neither side can forgo the estimation of the other. If both sides overestimate each other, neither side will be willing to take risks out of the need for self preservation, and the result will be a protracted air war. Ground forces will suffer as local air support will often be uncertain because air forces leaderships are reluctant to commit. See the Iran-Iraq war for one example.

Air Superiority

Contested airspaces can be created anytime and anywhere. Contested airspaces produces risks and expects risk taking, the latter includes the prospect of casualties. Indeed, the need to preserve one's forces is important, but refusal to take risks inevitably cedes contested airspaces to the other side. Ground forces often do not move unless air superiority is established over contested or potentially contested airspaces, so air superiority is even more important in repelling invaders of home soil.

Regarding losses, if incurred, in engaging enemy air forces in contested airspaces, numerical superiority is important and desired, however, technical capabilities can effectively supplement numerically inferior air forces in achieving air superiority. Technical capabilities produced the concept of 'force multiplier' features, such as a radar and weapons integration system that can engage multiple targets vs a system that can engage only one target at a time. In WW II, fighters can engage only one opponent at a time. Modern day fighters can engage at least 6 targets per acquisition scan by the radar.

Force multiplier features allows a numerically inferior air force to incur casualties and at least maintain the status quo of being contested, if not outright drive the enemy air force from the area. An example is from WW II when the RAF in the air is supported by ground radars against the Luftwaffe in what is called 'The Battle of Britain'. In the case of relative numerical parity of forces, force multiplier features increases the odds of gaining practical control of contested airspaces, if not outright absolute control. The most favorable state is when an air force have numerical and technological superiority.

Time is a negative when it comes to contested airspaces. In essence, contested airspaces should have a duration of being contested as short as possible. The longer an airspace is contested, the greater the stresses on the individual components of an air force. Those stresses are many, from logistics such as fuel, spare parts, and food, to intangible but equally vital such as the mental states and morale of the pilots and crews. A victory of one contested airspace is always a morale positive and will produce a willingness to enter the next one.

Scope is a negative when it comes to contested airspaces. Scope contains depth and breadth, essentially, the size area of a contested airspace. Scope is a serious stressor on an air force even if numerically and technically superior. Scope requires maintenance of the state of being contested. An air force's leadership must carefully calculate how much it can challenge into a contested airspace. That calculus comes from unit availability, technical capabilities, logistics, and the human factor. Tactically speaking, an air force can use the scope stressor against the other side without wanting to achieve control of that contested airspace. To do this, an air force must see the creation of a contested airspace as a mean, not a goal, to something else. This air force must send its units as far as possible and make its presence known. The tactic's intent is compel the other air force to expend resources to gain control of this contested airspace.

Achieving air superiority is the least desirable component of an air campaign and intelligence is crucial in every aspect.
 

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