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Pakistan Air Force

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) (Pakistan Fiza'ya in Urdu) is the Aviation branch of the Pakistan armed forces.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Aircraft
3 Markings
4 External links


The Pakistan Air Force was formed in 1947 during the Partition of the Sub-Continent. The beginning of the PAF saw it lacking planes, airmen and even more importantly, airfields. Initially, the PAF was heavily composed of cargo planes, notably the C-47 Dakota, which it used during the first of the Indo-Pakistani Wars to transport supplies to soldiers fighting in that region.

The 1950's saw the PAF join the jet age with the purchase of British-made Attacker jets. While these jets were built for Naval Aviation, the PAF made use of them. Initially, much of the PAF's equipment came from the United Kingdom. But as the Cold War heated up, the government of Pakistan began to court the United States more and to this end began receiving American equipment: notably the F-86 Sabre which would form the backbone of the PAF until the mid-70's. Other planes which were procured from the United States included: F-94 Starfires, F-84 Thunderjets, C-130 Hercules and eventually the Mach 2 F-104 Starfighter (Pakistan was the first Asian nation to operate a Mach 2 jet).

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 the PAF recorded the first combat kill with a Mach 2 Aircraft when a F-104 Starfighter shot down a Dassault Mystere of the Indian Air Force. The PAF also was effective at repelling Indian attacks and launching counter-offensives. The war ended in a stalemate, but the PAF was hailed in Pakistan for its performance. However, the United States placed an embargo on Pakistan during this war and the PAF turned to China and France to replace lost equipment. From China it acquired Shenyang F-6s and from France it acquired Dassault Mirage IIIs. F-86 Sabres were also acquired from Iran.

In between the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the PAF sent its pilots to many Arab nations during the Six-Day War. Pakistani pilots flew in the Air Forces of Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, recording numerous kills without losing any of their own planes.

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 saw Pakistan defeated in the east and the subsequent formation of Bangladesh. The PAF was heavily outnumbered in the East (only one air base existed there in Dhaka), but still managed to inflict heavy losses on Indian forces. In the West, the war ended in a stalemate again.

During the Yom Kippur War, sixteen PAF pilots volunteered for service in the Air Forces of Egypt and Syria. But by the time they arrived, Egypt had agreed to a cease-fire. The PAF pilots then became instructors in the Syrian Air Force at Dumayr Air Base.

Following the War of 1971, the PAF began to phase out the F-86 Sabre and other older jets, replacing them with more French made Dassault Mirage IIIs and Dassault Mirage Vs and Chinese made Shenyang F-6s and FT-5s.

The 1980's brought an invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. This increased tensions for Pakistan which did not want to face a Soviet invasion. This also led to increased aid to Pakistan from the United States and allowed the PAF to obtain the F-16 which proved to be the most capable plane in the inventory of the PAF, and remains so to this day. The PAF recorded numerous kills with these F-16s against the Afghanistan Air Force, which would often intrude into Pakistani airspace. The PAF also purchased F-7s and A-5s from China. The F-7 is now the main interceptor in the PAF's inventory.

The 1990's brought sanctions from the United States against Pakistan for its nuclear program. This forced Pakistan to rely heavily on China for military aid. Pakistan and China also worked together to develop the K-8 trainer, and continued cooperation is going into the development of the JF-17 project which should provide both nations with a next-generation fighter that they need. Recent events have allowed the United States to begin giving aid to Pakistan once again, and returns the money that Pakistan paid in the early 1990's for more F-16s. The sale was suspended due to the aforementioned sanctions. Pakistan is now looking to upgrade its fleet of aging F-16s and to buy spare parts for them.

Currently the PAF operates F-16s, F-7s, Dassault Mirage IIIs and Dassault Mirage Vs, and the A-5 in the attack role. The Shenyang F-6 was phased out in 2003. The C-130 Hercules continues to be used in Cargo duties. MiG-15s are retained in the trainer role, as are the K-8s.

The Air Force has about 45,000 active personnel with about 10,000 reserves.

One interesting fact is that the airbase in Kamra is named for Rashid Minhas who is honored in Pakistan as a martyr, and was given the posthumous honor of the Nishan-E-Haider. He was going on a regular training flight when Matiur Rahman entered the plane and knocked Minhas out. Minhas came to, and crashed the plane before it got to India. In Pakistan he is honored for sacrificing himself in order to defend his country. In Bangladesh, Matiur Rahman is seen as a hero for trying to join the Liberation War (as the Indo-Pakistani Conflict of 1971 is known in Bangladesh. Both men were awarded the highest awards of their nation, and both were honored with airbases in their name.



The PAF uses a green and white roundel with green being the outer color. It resembles the low-visibility roundel used by the
Royal Air Force. The tail marking is simply the flag of Pakistan. Recently, many aircraft have been seen with the white part included (In the past only the green part of the flag was represented). Some aircraft, notably the F-16 often had the roundels and flag painted in low-visibility colors, meaning that the roundel and flag were reduced to gray hues. But this seems to have been discontinued.

External links