Pakistan Air Force in anti-terror war
March 21, 2010
By Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)
The high professional excellence of Pakistan Air Force has been put to test by the war on terror. This is a different kind of war, because the enemy cannot be seen. The terrorists are engaged in a hit and run guerrilla war. Their tactics are secrecy, suicide bombings and ambush. Yet their greatest fear is that of air attacks. This is because of the surprise, speed, shock and devastation of air attacks. Missiles and bombs hit the terrorists, before they see the fighter jets, releasing and firing their lethal ordnance. The fighter bombers, and gun ship helicopters descend from the sky suddenly, and destroy their targets with great accuracy and greater lethality than is possible by ground attacks. Pakistan Air Force has flown over five hundred attack mission against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda Taliban, with devastating results. Hundreds of terrorists have been killed and injured, and not a single PAF air craft has suffered damage. The selected targets be they caves, hidden weapon, munitions and explosive stores were hit with great accuracy, by laser guided bombs, homing missiles, and accurately delivered ordnance. The terrorists insurgents remain in dread of air and drone attacks, which have taken a heavy toll of terrorist lives and properties.
The hills and mountains of Swat, Malakand, Bajaur, Orakzai, South Waziristan provide them an ideal terrain for hide, hit and run operations. Fortunately Pakistan Army’s excellent strategic planning and tactical operations and close cooperation with the Pakistan Air Force denied them the advantage of the terrain and forced and flushed the terrorists out of hideouts, trenches and mud forts into the open. Identification of terrorist caves and hideouts by Pakistan Army OP‘s , enabled Pakistan Air Force, to launch missiles, guided bombs and rockets with great accuracy to destroy and demolish terrorist caves, covered bunkers and trenches and mud forts, with minimum co-lateral damage. Highly coordinated land air operations has contributed effectively to the land operations of Pakistan Army and para-military forces against the terrorists in Swat-Malakand, South Waziristan, Bajaur and Orakzai Agencies. The success of air and ground operations in unison and coordination reflects high professional expertise of PAF commanders and pilots, and Pakistan Army commanders and jawans. While the nature of air operations, and excellent planning has ensured almost zero attrition, the same is not the case with the Army and the Frontier Corps. Hundreds of officers and thousands of JCO‘s, NCO‘s and Jawans have embraced Shahadat to ensure that Pakistani nation lives in safety. May God the Almighty bless them in heaven. The gallantry in battle of Pak Army’s and FC’s senior and junior officers, and jawans has inspired the national resolve not to rest till terrorism and terrorists are wiped out. Their names will be written in gold letters.
High professionalism of the PAF is because of intensive training, and first rate equipment. F-16, JF-17 Thunders, Mirage III and V’s and latest F-7P’s have been mastered by PAF fighter pilots. They are equipped with latest avionics, and high technology weapons systems. Air operations in Swat and FATA agencies have infused much needed confidence, and will be valuable assets in any future war like operations. War exercises have helped the PAF to maintain its operational edge. The Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has assured all neighbors by categorically stating that the ongoing “Exercise High Mark – 2010 is not aimed against any country and that the mission of PAF is to ensure peace, with honor. History teaches us that peace cannot be maintained from a position of weakness”. Air Chief further said that “Exercise is aimed at improving and demonstrating PAF’s operational capabilities”.
PAF Exercise High Mark 2010 is in full swing and the entire Air Force is engaged in operations in a realistic training environment. For the first time JF-17 Thunder aircraft were put through their paces in the stringent air environment that has been orchestrated to ensure realism in the exercise. The recently induced JF-17 Thunder would be put to test by undertaking entire spectrum of air war operations during High Mark, 2010.
For sustained air operations JF-17 Thunder fighter needs air refueling. A few Days earlier U.S. Air Force pilots and aircrews from the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, deployed at Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, arrived at PAF Chaklala to conduct joint exercises with the Pakistan Air Force. Upon arrival, the U.S. airmen invited PAF pilots and aircrews aboard their KC-135 Strato-tanker aircraft to familiarize them with U.S. Air Force air refueling equipment and procedures. U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Michael LeFever, the senior U.S. Defense Representative to Pakistan, hosted Pakistan Air Commodore Tahir Ranjha, PAF Air Transportation Director; and Air Commodore Khalil Ahmed, PAF Chaklala commander, aboard the KC-135 aircraft. “Events like these promote understanding and enhance PAF-USAF cooperation, while also boosting PAF’s capability and expertise.
US political and military leaders realize that the arrival of more F-16s in Pakistan later this year, developing air refuelling expertise is critical to increasing the PAF’s airborne endurance and enhancing their ability to counter the violent extremist threat in their country.” The new JF- 17 Thunder fighter of the PAF’s has aerial refueling capability, vital to ensure greater range and endurance.
Over the last three years, U.S. civilian and security assistance to Pakistan of $4 billion, includes medical aid, school refurbishment, bridge and well reconstruction materials, food distribution, agricultural and education projects. The military side ot the US aid includes supply of 18 F-16 fighter aircraft, 5 Fast Patrol Boats, 115 self-propelled Howitzer field artillery cannons, more than 450 battle vehicles for Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, one squadron of night attack Cobra helicopters, hundreds of night vision goggles, day/night scopes, radios, and thousands of protective vests and first-aid items for Pakistan’s security forces. Considering how deeply involved in the war against terror is the Pakistan military, this aid needs to be increased substantially.
PAF would benefit by close Pak-US cooperation in the field of aviation technology, and continued supply of aircraft, weapons and spares. The Peoples Republic of China has been Pakistan’s closest and consistent friend, and has provided the technology for the manufacture of fighter aircraft, warships, tanks and field guns. US has passed nuclear technology to India and not to Pakistan! Yet expects Pakistan to play front line role in the war against terror. The leadership in Washington needs to end discrimination, and come upfront in aiding Pakistan to fight the anti-terror with greater effect.