PAF in ’65 War - Testimony to excellence
September 7, 2011
By Aftab Hussain
‘A country without a strong Air Force is at the mercy of any aggressor. Pakistan must build up her Air Force as quickly as possible. It must be an efficient Air Force second to none’. This gracious advice of the Quid-e-Azam always remained as a guiding principle for the PAF Planners. From 1947 to 1965, PAF emerged a powerful weapon of the country’s defence capable of facing any challenge in the air. During 1965 war, PAF came out almost unscathed from the seventeen-day encounter. The nation was rightly proud of its Air Force as it fought aggressively and courageously; the PAF exhibited supreme professional skills and provided an impregnable shield to the country's airspace.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) undertook massive attacks in waves with a well calculated risk. PAF took full cognizance of the IAF’s numerical edge and prepared its aerial strategy to offset the advantage of its enemy.
The Indian fell into the trap and by the end of fourth day of war, IAF had lost many of their aircraft and pilots, the PAF had achieved the impossible–air superiority all over Pakistan. The maximum one can expect in jet age wars is Local Air Superiority over certain specified areas.
PAF fully capitalized on the miracle performed by its personnel and continued the offensive strikes against IAF bases day and night. The close support to Pak Army was provided on different fronts, and the time spent over the targets was astonishingly was very high. Some of the classic PAF close support missions are as follows:-
a) In Chamb Sector, PAF shot down four Vampires thus allowing the Pak Army to move on with a useful fillip to their morale. Thereafter, the IAF did not interfere with the ground operations in this sector. a
b) On 6 Sep, PAF’s prompt interventions facilitated Pak Army’s 10 Infantry Division time to deploy it forces i.e tanks and infantry at a vital bridge across the BRB canal at Batapur, only 10 miles from Lahore city.
c) The positioning of Indian Armoured Division at Samba-Kahuta road was posing a serious threat to Pasrur and Sialkot area, the PAF and 25 Cavalry of Pak army forced the enemy to withdraw to defensive positions. In this action 14 tanks were destroyed by the PAF.
d) In the tank battle raged in Chawanda-Badiana area from 8 to 23 September, the closest cooperation was exhibited between the PAF and the No.6 Armoured Division. In the 15 days of battle, PAF knocked out 113 Indian tanks in this area.
In the overall context, PAF proved that the influence of air superiority in this battle was almost as decisive as the ground operations. When the war ended, PAF had the enemy on the run; it could have totally annihilated the IAF, if the war had continued. This glorious victory of the PAF in the blue skies can be attributed to various factors. Some of these are as briefly discussed below:-
a) Success in war is not a sudden occurrence; it comes as a result of efforts made during peacetime. Air Marshal Asghar Khan, the first Pakistani C-in-C, had built up the PAF as a technically efficient force with excellent and devoted professionals.
b) PAF was the only arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces, which was prepared for imminent war as its higher command had anticipated the impending flare up in time and very promptly decided to order a ‘Red Alert’ on 01 September.
c) Being numerical inferiority; PAF Commanders were very selective in their mission planning and used their resources very judicially so as to avoid frittering away their meager resources.
d) PAF followed the strategic plan of crippling IAF on ground through air strikes , while preparing , if required, to fight a secondary battle in the defence of own air bases. The decision to go ahead with the initial strikes against main IAF air bases yielded four major advantages for the PAF. This strategy besides affecting some attritions, forced IAF to undertake retaliatory attacks thus dividing its number between strike and air defence. Consequently, IAF aircraft were also required to operate in the area where PAF could exploit its technical superiority of F-104 and the Sidewinder armed F-86s.
e) Single squadron of PAF F-104s managed to attain and maintain air superiority throughout the conflict. The Star Fighters were employed as top cover for the F-86s representing a threat to the IAF fighter fleet. Resultantly, the PAF Sabers inflicted more losses on the IAF Hunters, Gnats and Mysteres on 06 and 07 September. This is also attributed to the F-86s pilot’s superb skill, determination and courage.
f) Besides the PAF’s fighter squadrons, the bomber fleet also made significant contributions by undertaking regular night bombing operations against a number of Indian airfields, damaging most of them. PAF also utilized its C-130 fleet for night bombing. The speed with which the idea was adopted and the necessary modifications incorporated reflected the PAF’s pilots and engineer’s genius for improvisation.
g ) PAF pilots fought with a fierce determination based on religious and unifying fervour. They showed raw courage over the enemy targets and selfless concern for their comrades in the peril and made sacrifices and asked very little in return.
h) The inspirational leadership of Air Marshal Noor Khan established the foundations of aggressive tactics and raised the morale of the PAF accordingly.
PAF stopped its operations on 23 September, 1965; a whimpering and prostrate IAF got a new lease of life. The 1965 war saw the best of the PAF’s war-fighting abilities. The PAF made history by shooting down 13 aircraft in one day. PAF emerged as glorious because of a very high standard of leadership throughout its echelons; a determination springing from the realization that nothing less than national survival was at stake, and a sound background of training and experience.
Today, PAF stands as one of the best air forces of the world because it strongly relies on “Excellence thorough Training”. PAF has a good mixture of western and Chinese equipment and is continuing with the quest for high tech aircraft. The recent indigenization and up-gradation of Command and Control Centers, aircrafts and radars along with the very high degree of professionalism and dedication make PAF formidable force. The “Lean, efficient and hard hitting” Pakistan Air Force is fully geared up to play a pivotal role in the defence strategy and National security of Pakistan.
Source: http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-news ... excellence