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PAF s' Squadrons

No. 23 Squadron History: 1948-1988

Raised on 16th March 1961, No 23 Squadron was initially located at Kohat and equipped with Fury aircraft. Its early primary role was close support for the army with the additional responsibility of carrying out anti-locust operations when required.

In May 1961, the squadron participated in operations in the Dir / Bajaur area. From 21st to 24th and on 31st May 1961, it was called upon to provide close support and to destroy specified targets in the Bajaur valley. A total of 23 sorties were flown for this purpose and 60 lb. rockets and 20 mm ammunition were used.

The Squadron participated in exercise 'Hastings' with 5 sorties on 16 and 17th November 1961. A total of 28 missions of anti-locust measures were flown from 21st to 30th November 1961; 4 aircraft and pilots operated from PAF Drigh Road for this purpose. On 23rd March 1963, 2 Furies carried out a fly past over Miranshah fort in connection with the Republic Day parade by Tochi Scouts. Consequent upon the phasing out of Fury aircraft, the squadron was number-plated on 4th March 1964.

The unit was reactivated at Sargodha on 8th February 1966 with the newly inducted Chinese-built F-6 aircraft. It was also assigned the task of converting pilots of other squadrons on the F-6s. Between June and September, No 23 Squadron converted 25 other pilots in addition to its own complement.

A detachment comprising Squadron Leader Asghar A Randhawa, and Flight Lieutenants A. H. Malik and Khalid Iqbal took part in a fire power demonstration at Peshawar on 26th February 1967. The whole squadron moved to Shorkot on 16th September to activate PAF Rafiqui, where it stayed for two weeks.

On 13th October 1971, the squadron moved to Risalewala and remained there for war operations till 27th December. During the war a total of 307 sorties were flown in which the squadron destroyed two Su-7s and damaged 1. On 8th December 1971, Flight Lieutenant Afzal Siddiqui was shot down by own ground fire; he was awarded Sitara-i-Basalat posthumously.

In June 1975, the squadron was re-designated as No. 23 Air Superiority Squadron. The unit moved to Nawabshah on 1st January for the activation of that forward base. The deployment lasted one week during which air combat training with similar and dissimilar types of aircraft was conducted. In February, the squadron proceeded to Masroor for an air to air firing camp. It was the first unit to evaluate and successfully use the new SM-7 series gun-sight in air firing. While at Masroor the squadron also participated in low level air defence exercise 'Gold Coin II' on 27th and 28th February.

In November 1976, a team of 5 pilots comprising Wing Commander Nasir A Butt, Squadron Leader C Q Akhtar, Flight Lieutenants Tahir Ahmed and Azmat Kazi and Flying Officer Shahid, together with 40 airmen, participated in the inter-squadron armament competition. The Squadron team scored the highest marks to win the Perry Keene trophy. Flight Lieutenant Azmat Kazi achieved the highest individual score.

On 25th March 1978 the squadron was awarded a colour carrying its battle honours by the Chief of the Air Staff.

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