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PAF s' Squadrons

No. 18 Squadron History: 1948-1988

No. 18 Tactical Attack Squadron joined the Pakistan Air Force on 1st February 1958 at PAF Station, Mauripur with Squadron Leader Nazir Latif as its first squadron commander. It was equipped with F-86F aircraft and became operational in June 1958. The first action the squadron saw was during 1960-62, when it flew missions in support of the army in Dir and Bajaur agencies.

The first combat history of this squadron was written during the 1965 war when the unit based mainly at Sargodha conducted extensive operations all the way from Kashmir in the north to the Kasur area. Earlier the squadron had provided air cover in the Rann of Kutch to Pakistan Army. The period is replete with the courageous deeds of its men and officers. The squadron went into action early in the morning of 6th September in the Wagah and Atari sectors. For two weeks thereafter formations of 18 Squadron delivered one telling blow after another to exact a heavy toll from the enemy. On one occasion, two ammunition trains attacked by this unit at Gurdaspur railway yard remained ablaze for thirty six hours. This strike was led by the squadron commander Squadron Leader Alauddin Ahmed and during it he joined the ranks of the shaheeds thus setting an example which will continue to inspire the men and officers of 18 Squadron and indeed the whole of the PAF, long into the future.

Though primarily tasked to carry out ground attack, the achievements of this squadron in aerial engagements also earned recognition. Before he martyrdom, Squadron Leader Ahmed had shot down a Mystere; Flight Lieutenant Saleem destroyed an Indian army aircraft, while young Flying Officer Qais dispatched a light communication aircraft. Squadron Leader Alauddin Ahmed and Flight Lieutenants Hashmi and Amanullah Khan were awarded the Sitara-i-Juraat while all squadron pilots were awarded Imtiazi Sanads.

During the 1971 war the squadron was once again called upon to give a courageous account of itself, and it lived up to its traditions. Equipped with F-86Es it went into action in the Shakargarh salient and provided extensive close support to the army. It flew several interdiction missions in the Kashmir valley. One such mission was the spectacular attack on an explosives dump at Akhnur. From Samba to Sulemanki the fighters of 18 Squadron attacked with exemplary skill and courage.

And as in the previous war, the unit was not to be left behind in air combat. The squadron pilots shot down three Su-7s and one Mig-21 and damaged two Su-7s all with the faithful old Sabre. Two young pilots of 18 Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Maqsood Amir and Flying Officer Taloot Mirza were awarded Tamgha-i-Juraat for shooting down the best of IAF fighters.

From 1972 to 1980 the squadron took part in all the major operational exercises such as 'Saqib', 'White Horse' and the 'Jetstream' series. In each of these exercises it set out to attain an ever higher standard of professional excellence. The unit's standard of maintenance matched its operational performance . It also set a commendable standard of flight safety resulting in winning the flight safety trophy in 1979. In September 1980 the unit was number-plated upon the phasing out of F-86s.

The squadron was reactivated at Rafiqui in October 1981 with the new and more versatile Mirage-V aircraft and was assigned a tactical attack role.

Since its reactivation the squadron has participated in various exercises and earned a number of distinctions: in 1983 the unit earned the Professionals trophy in exercise Jetstream; in 1984 it won the Sarfraz Rafiqui flight safety trophy and in 1985 the inter-squadron armament competition. For its outstanding performance in war and peace the unit was awarded a colour on 1 April 1982.

In the year 1986, it was decided that 18 Squadron would be affiliated as a "brother squadron" of No 9 Squadron of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, equipped with F-5Es. The ceremony took place in Jordan on 22nd March 1987 at the Prince Hassan Air Base when the officer commanding No 18 Squadron presented the squadron colour to No. 9 Squadron, Royal Jordanian Air Force. A return ceremony took place in Pakistan when on 7th October 1987, the Jordanian squadron brought its own standard and presented it to No.18 Squadron at an impressive ceremony reviewed by General Akthar Abdul Rahman Khan, chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff Committee.

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