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

 

 

Graduation parade of PAF Academy Risalpur; Sept 2014

Yesterday graduation parade of 132 GD (P), 77 Engineering Course, 91 Air Defence Course and Commissioning Parade of 135 GD (P), 81 Engineering Course, 16 A&SD course and 03 Navigation Course was held at PAF Academy Risalpur.

While addressing the graduating parade, the Air Chief said, “With Air Power fast becoming the future Weapon of Choice, you must acquire the ability to be able to accept this role with all its manifestations. Hundred percent commitments would be the minimum requirement for continuous progress of the Pakistan Air Force as a modern Force of the 21st Century. Make a note that, perseverance, diligence and unwavering determination would be name of the game. I therefore, want you to keep in mind what the Quaid said while addressing the PAF personnel at Malir, on 21st February, 1948: “You will have to be alert, very alert, for the time for relaxation is not yet there. With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve”.

A total of 102 Under Training Officers and 13 cadets were graduated whereas 111 cadets were commissioned on the occasion. The Chief Guest awarded branch insignias to the graduating officers and Aviation Cadets and also gave away trophies among the distinction holders.

The chief guest awarded Quaid-e-Azam Banner to No 3 Squadron, the Champion Squadron of the Academy.

Chief of the Air Staff’s Trophy for best performance in Flying Training being awarded to Pilot Officer Danial Abid for overall best performance in flying training.

Chief of the Air Staff’s Trophy for best performance in Flying Training being awarded to Pilot Officer Danial Abid for overall best performance in flying training.

Pilot Officer Haris Salahuddin of 132 GD (P) course being awarded Sword of Honour for Overall Best Performance in College of Flying Training.

Pilot Officer Haris Salahuddin of 132 GD (P) course being awarded Sword of Honour for Overall Best Performance in College of Flying Training.

The Chief Guest awarded branch insignias to the graduating officers and Aviation Cadets and also gave away trophies among the distinction holders.

The Chief Guest awarded branch insignias to the graduating officers and Aviation Cadets.

Grroup photo of graduate officers

Group photo of graduate officers

 

Chief Guest ACM Tahir Rafique and senior officers witnessing K-8 'Sherdiles Team aerobatics.

Chief Guest ACM Tahir Rafique and senior officers witnessing K-8 'Sherdiles Team aerobatics.

Chief Guest ACM Tahir Rafique, CAS PAF and senior officers witnessing K-8 ‘Sherdils’ Team aerobatics.

paf_academy_risapluer_parade_sept_2014_sherdils_aerobatics_01

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K-8 Aerobatics team ‘Sherdils’ in action.

 

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