Defence Day Air show 2015 – Fatima Jinnah Park Islamabad

To celebrate 50th anniversary of Pakistani armed forces victory of 1956 war, an  airshow was organised at  Fatima Jinnah Park, F-9, Islamabad. The day reminds us of professionalism and bravery of Pakistani soldiers to decimate enemy’s monstrous forces.

PAF in particular ensured air guards of Pakistani frontiers and despatched the enemy forces back from where they had come. The day also reminds us of those who went on missions – never to return.

F-9 Park airshow Summary:

1130hrs:  High Speed Run by Mirage-III
1132hrs: Super Mushshak aerobatics
1139hrs: Sherdils display
1148hrs: JF-17 Thunder, 26 Sqn
1155hrs: F-16 MLU, 9 Sqn
1202hrs: AS350 Écureuil aerobatics (Pak Army)                                                                                                                            [ All photos credits: Abid Khan]

C-130 & Alouette

No.6 Sqn C-130 (Callsign “Stranger12”) provided air surveillance of venue prior to the airshow. The aircraft was seen flying at altitude of 9000-10,000 ft. Alouette-III from Search-And-Rescue unit provided Metro-logical support.

Mirages Sonic Boom

Two low-level flying Mirage-IIIEL aircraft kicked off the airshow with a massive sonic boom followed by vertical High-G maneuver polished by released of flares. Both aircraft took the audience by surprise & faded away in less than 15 seconds.

 

 

Super MushshakSuper Mushshak (Serial # 97-6394) of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex showed its potential & maneuvering skills. PAC has exhibited the aircraft in various airshows in Middle East in the past; recently it participated in Bucharest International Air Show (BIAS) in Romania in June. The aircraft has cruising speed of 130kts (240km/hr) and comes with internationally reputed Dyon and Garmin cockpit instrumentation technology. Mushshak can carry weapons / bombs on six external stations and can also perform border patrol duties.

Sherdils - K-8 9- Sherdils from PAF Academy Risalpur brought colours to the airshow. The team showed their precise flying, sharp reflexes and exceptional piloting skills in maneuvering the aircraft in close formations. The team’s menu remained the same since its inception in 1974 i.e. line astern to diamond formation during a loop, then clover-leaf, steep turn, barrel roll and finally, the breath-taking bomb-burst. In Sherdils, 6 aircraft perform where as three aircraft perform the initial run-in and break-off in a linear bomburst over the venue.

JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's PridePakistan’s pride JF-17 Thunder (Serial # 09-111) flown by O/C 26 MR Sqn brought the WoW factor  to the airshow. The aircraft flew various fast passes, slow passes, fast rolls and inverted roll in its 7-min performance.

JF-17 Thunder has been inducted in 3 combat squadrons of PAF, with a 4th unit gearing up to receive this aircraft. The success of Pak-China JF-17 Thunder has brought an affordable Multi-Role combat aircraft not only to PAF but to many Middle Eastern & Asia countries who are looking for replacement of their combat fleet with state-of-the-art fighter aircraft. Recently Myanmar has signed at deal for purchase of one squadron of this aircraft.

F-16 Fighting FalconThe legendary F-16 Fighting Falcon flown by O/C No.9 MR Sqn stole the airshow with its breathtaking performance. The pilot exhibited aircraft’s maneuverability in tight turns, slow-speed pass. On the peak of display, the aircraft comes down to low level and performed max-performance turn…taking Islamabad by a storm!

 

As-350 Ecuriel, PAAFollowed by PAF performances were  AS350 Écureuil aerobatics of Pak Army Aviation wing and flight of Special Services Group (SSG) commandoes hanging from slings with AS-332 Super Puma aircraft. Motor-glider flight by PAF Academy Risalpur and para-trooping by special forces units of all three forces dropped from C-130 aircraft at about 10,000 ft brought more colours to the airshow.

( Click on photos to enlarge )

AS-332, PAA & SSGF-16 Fighting Falcon Super Mushshak, PAC Super Mushshak, PAC

Sherdils - K-8  Sherdils - K-8 Sherdils - K-8

Sherdils - K-8Sherdils - K-8 Sherdils - K-8 Sherdils - K-8

JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride  F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting FalconF-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting FalconF-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon

 

 

Photos from Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015

Photos from latest edition of Exercise Anatolian Eagle (2015-1) which was conducted from June 8th to 19th, 2015.

Anatolian Eagle exercises (similar to “Red Flag” exercise) simulate a war-time environment and gives chance to fighting forces to test their mettle in various scenarios. The exercise is grouped into three teams; HQ (white), Red and Blue Forces. The white team manages the training scenarios, monitor and evaluate performance of Red & Blue teams. Red team was tasked with attack on Blue team, whereas element of Air Defence (SAMs/AAAs/Anti-Aircraft-guns) was included in Blue team’s package.

Anatolian Eagle 2015-1 participating countries:

Turkish Air Force (42 x F-16C/D,12 x F-4E/2020s, 1 x Boeing KC-135R, 1 x Boeing EW-7T)
Royal Air Force, UK: 8 x Typhoon FGR4/T3, XI Sqn., Coningsby
Spanish Air Force: 6 x EF-18M , Ala 15, Zaragoza
Pakistan Air Force: 6 x F-16 A/B MLU, 38 Wing, 9 Sqn., Mushaf
US Air Force: 12 x F-15C/D, Lakenheath, UK
German Air Force: 1 x Airbus A 310, Köln-Bonn
Nato: 2 x E-3A Geilenkirchen, Germany

All photos credits: Zafer Buna

Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015-1 Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015-1

O/C 9 Sqn Landing F-16 during Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015 with Turkish Air Force & NATO.

Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015-1 Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015-1

Exercise Patch (left)  – PAF C-130s provided logistics support to their team.

Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015-1 Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015-1 Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015-1 Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2015-1

No.9 Sqn “Griffins” F-16 MLUs equipped with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles took part in Air-Air and Air-Surface mission during the exercise. PAF pilots have proved their mettle in multinational Exercises with U.S,U.K,China,Tukey,Saudia Arabia,UAE, France, Itlay, NATO,Egypt, Jordan and many other Air Forces in last decade.

Shahbaz Falcons – Part 2/2

Pictures from PAF’s No.5 MR Sqn from Shahbaz Air Base, Jacobabad.

Part-1 here

 

F-16D Block52 Pakistan Air Force

F-16D passing by scare crow planted  for flight safety reasons on Shahbaz runway. A part from such conventional scare crows  PAF has also employed sharp shooter men (equipped with rifles) to keep birds away from the air field.

F-16D Block52 Pakistan Air Force

F-16D Block52 powered by F100-PW-229 turbofan engine capable of producing of 29,100 lb (129.4 kN) thrust on full augmentation.

F-16D Block52 Pakistan Air Force

F-16D Block52 Pakistan Air Force A No.5 Sqn pilot goes over his checklist prior to takeoff with F-16D block 52. F-16 Block52s are force multiplier platform for PAF and are equipped with array of air-air and air-ground munitions.

F-16D Block52 Pakistan Air Force

A F-16 pilot gestures ‘Thumbs Up’ to ground crew as he prepares for take off. The pilot is wearing Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System( JHMCS).

F-16D Block52 Pakistan Air Force

Falcons formation preparing for takeoff from Shahbaz Air Base.

F-16D Block52 Pakistan Air Force

 

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F-16 Block 52 head on shot, showing Advance Identification of Friend or Foe (AIFF) antennas mounted on the upper forward fuselage in front of the canopy.

F-16D Block52 Pakistan Air Force

 

F-16 Block52 induction ceremony fly past

No.5 Sqn ‘Falcons’ Ex-RAAF Mirage IIIDF being escorted by F-16 Block-52 aircraft  during its farewell fly past on 10 March, 2011. The same day; No.5 Sqn was re-equipped with newly inducted state-of-the-art F-16 C/D Block 52+ aircraft. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of the Army Staff, Pakistan Army was the Chief Guest on the occasion. Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force also attended the ceremony along with other senior civil and military officials.

No. 5 Sqn was raised on August 15, 1947 and it is PAF’s second oldest fighter squadron. Mirage; the delta winged fighter aircraft, was inducted in the unit in 1967 and remained in service for over 43 years. No. 5 Sqn kept flying Mirage-IIIEA/DA/EP/RP and Mirage-VDR variants for years. Keeping so many Mirage types  operational was a difficult task for the engineering team.

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JF-17 Thunder: A Customized Multirole fighter

International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2012 has recently ended at Expo Centre, Karachi. This 7th edition of the exhibition is held after a delay of four years. Many new investors have made their way to this exhibition. Weapons, ammunition, C4ISR systems, engineering, logistics and naval equipment are categorized in nine different categories.

IDEAS give an ideal platform to manufactures of weapon systems, ammunition, logistics to present their systems to their potential customers and Pakistani defence organizations at large. This five-day event has showcased military related equipment from 209 firms; including 135 foreign and 74 Pakistani firms. Delegations from over 80 countries around the world have participated in this exhibition.

Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAC) joint venture JF-17 Thunder is also displayed at IDEAS 2012 along with Super-Mushshak primary trainer and K-8 Advance Jet Trainer.
JF-17 Thunder is displayed with an array of air-to-ground weapons, successfully integrated and in operational service with PAF. Brazilian origin MAR-1 Anti-Radiation Missile, Chinese PL-5E Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (SRAAM), Hafr Runway Penetration Bomb (RPB) (Pakistani variant of MBDA Durandal) and U.S.-Origin Mk-82/84 General purpose bombs are also displayed in IDEAS 2012.

MAR-1 missile was integrated with JF-17 in the first half of 2011 and it was made operational in 2012. PL-5E II Air-to-Air missile, MK-82/84 bombs and Hafr RPB were also successfully integrated in 2010. Numerous bombing practice missions have also been conducted in past couple of years.

Unlike previous public appearances of JF-17 on air shows and defence exhibitions; this time no SD-10 Medium Range BVR missile, C-802 Anti-Shipping missile, WMD-7 Electro-Optic/IR targeting pod, KG-300 Electronic Warfare pod or LS-6 glide guided are displayed. One of the reasons is that Zhuahi Air Show 2012; which will be held from 13 to 18 November 2012 in China will be featuring the Chinese-origin air, land and sea attack weapons for JF-17 Thunder.

Over the years JF-17 has matured enough to form the backbone of PAF. Integration of various classes of weapons systems from different origins has increased its potential to multi-folds. The low-operating cost and smaller price tag gives JF-17 a significant edge of other fighters of its class; which deliver similar performance at a hefty price tag.

It is pertinent to mention here that JF-17 is a customized Multi-Role fighter for PAF. The weapons displayed and integrated with it so far are subjected to PAF’s Air Staff Requirements (ASR). There are many Western and Chinese origin weapons which are in process of integration or queued up for integration (if required by any customer). FC-1; the export version of JF-17 will incorporate Chinese origin avionics, Electronic Warfare suite and GPS/navigation technology. Modifications to meet any western origin aircraft design can be made; including integration of US origin AIM-9L Sidewinder missile, British origin Martin Baker Zero-Zero ejection seats and western origin GPS/navigation technology as well. Some of these aforementioned western origin changes are already done in PAF JF-17s.

As mentioned before, an array of weapons are queued up for integration with JF-17.
These weapons include Chinese origin CM-802 Stand-Off Weapon (SOW); land attack derivate of the C-802 (YJ-82) anti-ship missile with a range of 230km, Chinese origin CM-400 SOW; a super-sonic SOW with lethal penetration and fire-and-forget capability, South African Origin H-2 SOW (already in service with PAF Mirages since mid1990s) and Pakistani Hatf-VIII Ra’ad Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) capable of carrying both conventional and non-conventional warheads and possibly Chinese origin TL-500 SOW; newly showcased 500 kg SOW at Zhuhai Air Show 2012. Various classes of 250kg and 500kg glide guided bombs are also available for integration with JF-17. These include LT-3 (500kg glide bomb with foldable wings), LS-6 (500kg/250kg/100kg/50kg glide bomb) etc. Satellite/inertial guidance kits are also available for addition with 250kg/500kg general purpose bombs making them lethal precision guided bombs (similar to US JDAM) for a target of up to 60kms. FT-1/FT-2 guidance kits can be embarked upon 500kg/1,000lb bombs whereas FT-3/FT-4 satellite/inertial guidance kits can be employed on 250kg/500lb class general purpose bombs. These guidance tail kits are available in strap on folding wing kits and planar wing kits. Low drag bomb casing and steel penetrator warhead (for deep penetration in concrete structures like Hardened Air Shelters (HAS)) can also be employed.

A part from the aforementioned avionics and weapon load customization options available with JF-17 Thunder, there is one significant portion left un-discussed i.e.range and endurance of the aircraft. The first batch of 50 JF-17s for PAF has a combat radius of 1300km, which will be enhanced by introduction of Air-to-Air refuelling probe in the second batch. The take-off distance of 2,000ft (610m) and landing distance of 2,700ft (823m) makes JF-17 favourable aircraft for shorter-runway or road-landing operations.
China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) are marketing JF-17 as “cutting edge technology at an affordable cost” to small budget air forces operating Mig-21/J-7/Mig-29 and Mirage-III/V aircraft. No doubt that JF-17 delivers a hard hitting and complete solution with smaller operating cost and greater flexibility.

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JF-17 Thunders lined up after arrival in China to participate in Zhuhai air show 2012.[Photo: www.chinanews.com]

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JF-17 Thunder Serial no 09-111; the first JF-17 locally assembled in Pakistan, taking off from Peshawar Air Base. Over 40 of such aircraft are operational in service with PAF. PAF JF-17s are powered with RD-93 engine, capable of producing 79-98kN of thrust. WS-13; another potent engine undergoing flight trails at Chengdu flight center, China. WS-13 will be available for export version FC-1 aircraft in near future.

500 kg LT-3 precision guided bomb

500 kg LT-3 precision guided bomb with an effective range of up to 24km. It employs modular laser sensor kit similar to US origin GBU-54/55/56 Laser JDAM (LJDAM) weapons. [Photo: Air Power Australia, www.ausairpower.net]

cm-400akg_stand_off_weapon_china

Brochure of Chinese origin CM-400 SOW; a super-sonic SOW with lethal penetration and fire-and-forget capability displayed at Zhuhai air show 2012. The weapon is cited as one of the potential SOW for FC-1/JF-17 Thunder aircraft. [Photo: China.com, www.china.com]

cm-802akg_stand_off_weapon_china

Brochure of Chinese origin Chinese origin CM-802 Stand-Off Weapon (SOW); land attack derivate of the C-802 (YJ-82) anti-ship missile with a range of 230km displayed at Zhuhai air show 2012. According to Janes[i] PAF has shown interest in procuring this weapon for JF-17 Thunder. [Photo: China.com, www.china.com]

jf-17_thunder_sd-10_bvr_mssile_ls-6_bomb

SD-10A Medium Range Air to Air Missiles on multi-ejector racks and LS-6, 500kg glide bomb. LS-6 has a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of less than 15m. [Photo: Chinese Internet]

This article was published in The Frontier Post on November 13, 2012.

 

 

Kamra base attack: some thoughts

On the night of August 15 and the Holy night of 27th Ramadan a bunch of militants pounded the heart of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Base Minhas situated at Kamra, this is also the place where Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) a leading aviation and defence production centre of Pakistanis located.

The intruders were not just a bunch of well trained, twisted-minded terrorists who could jump in the fire for fun. Neither was it a random attack by suicide bombers with loads of ammunition in their backpacks. It was deliberate and well-planned attack that was precisely executed and skilfully targeted. Unlike most of the earlier attacks on Pakistani forces the targets were not the soldiers.

The terrorists adopted the same mission profile they used in attack on PNS Mehran at Karachi on 22 May 2011, in which terrorists took advantage of civilian populated section of the base, using night as a cover, military uniforms for deception, lethal and automatic weapons like Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) for quick and precise attack. They were aided by modern equipment like Night Vision Goggles (NVG) for better situational awareness at night. Furthermore, this time terrorists took the advantage of strategic surprise by attacking on the Holy night of 27 Ramadan…any practicing Muslim would have been praying that night. Arabs did the same with the Israelis in the Yom Kippur War 1973. Attack on Yom Kippur, an important religious day for Jews, caught the Israeli forces by surprise and the advancing Arab forces accrued great advantage from this tactic.
The Kamra attack raises two major questions: why Minhas Air Force Base (AFB)? And why attack air surveillance systems only?

Minhas AFB is one of the most important air bases of PAF. The major part of the geographic location is shared by PAC, which comprises of four factories i.e. Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF), Avionics Production Factory (APF), Mirage Rebuild Factory (MRF) and Aircraft Rebuild Factory (ARF). These factories build, repair and overhaul major weapons systems of PAF including JF-17 Thunder, Mirage-III/V, F-7P/PG, K-8, Mushshak/Super Mushshak aircraft, low-level and high-level radar systems and engine overhaul of C-130, Y-12 and Boeing-777 aircraft.

Minhas AFB is home to two operational fighter squadrons (namely No.14 squadron equipped with Chinese F-7P aircraft and No.16 squadron with Pak-China JF-17 Thunder aircraft), a Search and Rescue Squadron with Alouette-III helicopters and an air-surveillance squadron comprising of Saab-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AEW&C). Some C-130 transport aircraft and IL-78 Multirole tanker and transport aircraft are also stationed on the base.

Minhas AFB is located near densely populated city of Attock. Back in 1974, it was amongst the lowest populated areas of the district Attock. Today various villages are situated in the outskirts of the base…For reader’s interest; the main road of PAC (on which all four factories are located) was fully open to public till the suicide attack on the road of the base in late 2007.

All these reasons made Minhas AFB the prized target for terrorists. Now coming to the second question i.e. why attack air surveillance systems only?
As mentioned in the beginning of this article that the terrorists adopted mission profile used in attack on PNS Mehran, in which RPG were fired on P-3 Orion Maritime Surveillance Aircraft. That resulted in complete destruction of two of such systems and one Sea King Helicopter as well.

Just like P-3 Orions of Pak Navy (PN), Saab-2000 AEW&C aircraft are very expensive, long range air-surveillance systems. The Saab-2000 AEW&C has a range of up to 450km. It can provide battlefield picture, information about enemy targets (in air, land or sea), enhance situation awareness of combat fleet of PAF by sharing target information. Also, it can continuously remain in the air for a very long period of time.

Saab-2000 AEW&C is not a system to be used in on-going fight in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). It is an India-centric system. The long-range, high-endurance and deep radar coverage capability of Saab-2000 AEW&C can challenge India’s air superiority in the region. This aircraft is a part of Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) network centric system of PAF. For India, achieving air-superiority without getting the best of such air surveillance systems is not possible. Air battles of today and future will not entirely rely on well-equipped fighter units penetrating enemy air space. The network centric system of war, which includes AEW&C systems sharing battlefield information with fighter units, ground units and battleships will form the order of battle. Now, AEW&C systems are not much of a threat for militants. The question to ponder upon is: are the terrorists attacking Pakistan’s AEW&C and surveillance systems at the behest of another country? This takes state sponsoring of terrorism at a whole new level. It is a manifestation of sub-conventional warfare. What would Pakistani decision-makers do to counter this strategic nightmare? My sense is that they will have to go to whatever limits they consider essential, in their threat perception.

To address these challenges, Pakistani armed forces have to beef up the security of its military installations. Particularly, all those bases with force multiplier systems and air-surveillance systems should be given extra security. All those military bases with residential areas in their outskirts need to be monitored on routinely basis. One must complement the Air Force for a job very well done, as there is no room for complacency. In the present on-going security situation we cannot be relaxed at any given time. Multi-layered security should be made possible in all areas of bases…One thing is for sure, the attackers don’t use the front door anymore.
God bless Pakistan. Amen

A slightly different version of this article was published in The Express Tribune, August 19, 2012. Link

8th Pakistani F-16 pilot joins 2000hrs club

In March/April 2012, Wg Cdr Ghazanfar Latif (then OC No.5 Sqn) reached the unique milestone of becoming the 8th Pakistan Air Force F-16 pilot to complete 2000hrs. Wg Cdr Ghazanfar has been flying   F-16s since 1996 and apart from participating in domestic  exercises & operational deployments. He has also actively participated in several multinational exercises for PAF that include Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2004 (Turkey), Indus Viper 2008 (Pakistan) and Falcon Talon 2009 (Pakistan).

PAF has been operating F-16s since January 1983 and since then hundreds of thousands of flying hours have been accumulated by the Pakistani pilots. Over fifty PAF pilots have surpassed the 1000hrs benchmark.

Wng Cdr Ghazanfar 2000hrs F-16

June 26, 2010: Wg Cdr Ghazanfar Latif poses for the camera after ferrying first ever F-16 Block-52 aircraft from U.S to Pakistan. He also led the team that ferried MLU F-16s from Turkey in Feb 2012. PAF’s fleet of F-16A/B Block-15 are undergoing MLU at Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Turkey which are expected to be completed by 2014.

F-16 Fighting Falcon 2000hrs patch

Lockheed Martin Corp. delivers the specially designed F-16 2000-hour patch to the pilots of recipient Air Forces.