Pakistan Air Force

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The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) (Urdu: پاک فضائیہ (Pakistan Faza'ya)) is the Aviation branch of the Pakistan armed forces.


History of the Pakistan Air Force

Origin (1947 - 1951)

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was established on August 14, 1947 on independence day of Pakistan. At the time of its birth the air force consisted of only two-thousand men and officers; its fleet consisted of sixteen Tempest-II piston-engine fighter-bombers, two C-47 Dakota transport aircraft, twelve T-6G Harvard trainers and seven Tiger Moth biplanes. The so-called "force" hardly received any of its promised/allocated equipment - and whatever did reach Pakistan was unserviceable or obsolete compared to what India had received/retained. Pakistan did however inherit seven operational air fields - but they too were in mostly poor condition as they lacked adequate facilities and maintenance depots for the air force's aircraft.

Image:PAFF16.jpg Operating these inherited aircraft was literally far from ideal, especially in Pakistan's diverse terrains, deserts and mountains; frequent attrition and injuries did not make the situation any better. However by 1948 the air force eventually inducted more worthwhile aircraft such as the Fury fighter-bomber and Bristol Freighter. Compared to what the PAF initially inherited, these new aircraft gave a much needed boost to the morale and combat capability of the Pakistan Air Force; 93 Hawker Fury and roughly 50-70 Bristol Freighter aircraft were inducted into the PAF by 1950.

The Jet Age (1951 - 1961)

Although the Pakistan Air Force had little funds to use and markets to choose from, the PAF had entered the jet age quite early. Initially it had planned to acquire American built F-94Cs, F-86s or F-84s; and produce of its order at home in Pakistan. However lack of funds and strong British pressure eventually pushed the PAF to acquire the British Supermarine Attacker. The first squadron equipped with these aircraft was the Number-11 "Arrow". The Supermarine Attacker had a rather unsatisfactory service in the Pakistan Air Force with frequent attritions and maintenance problems.

It would be in 1957 when the Pakistan Air Force finally receives a proper "break" from sub-par equipment; during that momentous year the Pakistan Air Force would induct 100 American-built F-86 Sabres under the U.S aid program. Squadron after squadron in the PAF retried its Hawker Fury and Supermarine Attackers and replaced them with F-86 jet fighters. In 1957 thirty-six year old Air Marshal Asghar Khan became the Pakistan Air Force's first commander and chief; during his tenure saw a change of PAF discipline, professionalism and quality - which would even today leave its positive mark on the PAF. During his eight-year command the PAF saw massive modernization and re-equipment programs; as well as strict and high-standard training.

The Supersonic Era (1961 - 1979)

Image:PAFJF17.gif In light of a possible nuclear attack on Pakistan the American government provided 12 F-104 Starfighters to the Pakistan Air Force; making the PAF the first Asian Air Force to operate supersonic fighters. Operated by the Number-9 "Griffin" squadron the F-104 became the jewel of the PAF. The Starfighters would serve the PAF extremely well in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India; however were retired in 1972 due to a U.S embargo and lack of spare-parts to operate the aircraft.

After the 1965 war with India the Pakistan Air Force could not procure new combat aircraft from the United States to replace its older F-86; originally the PAF was going to acquire more F-104s and new F-5 "Tiger" aircraft. However a U.S imposed arms-embargo forced the PAF to seek French and Chinese alternatives. In 1967 twenty-four state-of-the-art Dassault Mirage III fighter aircraft were inducted; a French supersonic fighter that boasted more advanced technology than the Starfighter. In the 1971 war the PAF's Mirages shot down nine Indian Air Force aircraft, took part in crucial ground attack missions - and suffered no losses. After the 1971 war the Pakistan Air Force lined up all 24 Mirage IIIs for display to prove that IAF claims of shooting down a PAF Mirage were false. Throughout the 1970s the PAF would form a fleet of 96 Mirage III and Mirage-V aircraft; and even today Mirages form the mainstay of the Pakistan Air Force's high-altitude interceptor/air-superiority and surface-strike forces.

As part of the post-1965 replacement and expansion program the PAF bought 90 ex-Luftwaffe, Canadian-built F-86 Mk.6 aircraft to replace attritioned Sabres as well as expand the Sabre fleet. In addition to the Sabres 60 Chinese F-6s were acquired; the F-6 was the Chinese produced MiG-19. Both the F-86 and F-6 would prove their worth during the 1971 war - with both types even shooting down newer and more advanced enemy MiG-21s. Up to 180 F-6s alongside 96 Mirage III/Vs would be bought to replace the F-86 and F-104 during the 1970s.

During the late-1960s and 1970s the Pakistan Air Force attempted to acquire a "core" fighter aircraft meant to entirely replace Korean-War era F-86 and F-6 (Chinese MiG-19) aircraft; although deals were close to being signed, they usually failed due to Pakistani politics. In 1970 the PAF was in the final stages of negotiations for Saab-Draken and Saab-Viggin aircraft - as well as a production line for the latter in Pakistan. However due to Sweden's concerns over the East Pakistan issue - the deal failed to finalize. In the mid-1970s attempts were once again made to acquire F-5 "Tiger" and even A-4 attack aircraft; however U.S concerns over Pakistan's supposed nuclear weapons program did not let a deal finalize. During the late-1970s the Pakistan Air Force attempted to acquire a large number of new Mirage F-1 fighter jets from France; a production line for Mirage F-1s was supposed to be built in Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra. However the Zia-ul-Haq administration did not approve of the purchase - and the PAF was eventually pushed to acquire more Mirage Vs.

The New Generation (1983 - 1989)

Image:PAFMirage.jpg In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on request of the Afghan king to crush opposition and rebellion; however with the violent Soviet invasion brought hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees to Pakistan. With the Soviet invasion critical to Pakistan's national sovereignty and integrity the PAF once again sought out for massive modernization, including the procurement of new generation fighter aircraft. France offered its new Mirage 2000 - and while it was a good fighter jet the PAF's senior officers were interested in procuring American F-16 or F-18L fighters. Initially the Americans refused to sell the F-16 or F-18L - and instead offered F-20, F-5E/F and A-10; however these fighters would not give the PAF much in terms of improvement. Eventually the new Republican administration of Ronald Reagan approved the sale of F-16s to Pakistan and in 1981 an agreement to supply 28 General Dynamics F-16A and 12 F-16B "Fighting Falcon" aircraft to the Pakistan Air Force.

The F-16s would be supplied under the "Peace Gate" Foreign Military Sales Program; the first six were delivered in 1983 under "Peace Gate-I" while the remainder 34 by 1986 under the "Peace Gate-II" program. Between 1986 and 1988 Pakistani F-16s took part in frequent skirmishes with Soviet and Afghan aircraft; at least eight enemy fighters were shot down (number may be higher) with the loss of one F-16 - which was an "own goal" (the pilot ejected safely).

During that time period the Pakistan Air Force's Air Defense system had gone through massive modernization; including the induction and integration of new land-based AN/TPS-47 radars and new Crotale Surface-to-Air missiles. Attempts to acquire a new AWACS aircraft were also made - with the E-3 Sentinel being desired, however the U.S would not sell it and instead offered the sub-par E-2 Hawkeye.

Image:PAFJ10.jpg In 1988 the Pakistan Air Force sought to replace its F-6s and Mirages by 1997 with the procurement of new aircraft; initially a mix of Mirage 2000 and F-16A/B Block-15OCU were going to be acquired alongside 90 or so F-7 (Chinese MiG-21). However in 1988 the death of President, General Zia-ul-Haq and the new government's desire to slightly reduce spending on defense resulted in 71 F-16A/B Block-15OCUs instead. These aircraft were to be delivered by 1997 and a follow-on order of F-16C/D Block-30s likely.

The "Lost" Decade (1991 - 2001)

From 1990 Pakistan was hit by American military embargoes for Pakistan's nuclear weapons development; these embargoes prevented the Pakistan Air Force from acquiring as many as 71 new-built F-16s from the U.S. After the 1998 nuclear tests and 1999 military coup Pakistan was hit by further sanctions not only from the U.S but the West as well; it would not be until 2002 when the U.S finally lifts most of the embargoes. During the 1990s the Pakistan Air Force strived for alternative sources for its new generation fighter requirement (which was supposed to be filled by the F-16); the French Dassault Mirage 2000-5 was chosen but was too expensive to obtain.

This forced Pakistan to rely heavily on China for military development. 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 new-generation fighter that they need. This project is a major joint venture between Pakistan Air Force and China Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation along with Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC). The Research and Development cost of this project is between 450 to 500 million US dollars. This multi-million dollar project is financed up to 50%-59% by government of Pakistan. Estimated cost per aircraft will be around 20 million US dollars which makes it excellent option for export market. As of 2005, Pakistan has started manufacturing JF-17 in Kamra and the first delivery of planes is expected to take place in 2007.

Present (2006 - today)

The Pakistan Air Force, today, is a force in transition. It is striving hard to make up for the lack of induction of new advanced fighters during the 90s. It is valiantly waging an on-going battle against over-bearing odds; to keep from becoming obsolete and ineffective in the face of the threat posed by its much larger neighbor, India. It is a testimony to the PAF's resolve & tenacity to remain a viable and potent force even under such trying circumstances. Today the PAF operates F-16s, F-7PGs, F-7MPs, Mirage-IIIs, Mirage-Vs and A-5Cs. It operates around 350 to 400 fighters in the form of some 22 frontline squadrons. To make up for the 1990s the PAF is upgrading obsolete fighter aircraft into modern combat capable machines, such as the Mirage ROSE-I which can utilize BVR or Mirage ROSE-III which can carry out surgical strike missions using long-range glide bombs.

However, with the help of China as well as a growing defense industry in Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force is standing back up on its feet. In 1947 the air force started out as a force with third-rate equipment - today it is a force that still poses an adequate threat to the enemy.

Pakistan will start manufacturing 150 JF-17 Thunder fighters at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra, Punjab, Pakistan and first squadron will join PAF in early 2007.

Pakistan’s cabinet gave clearance to the purchase of up to 77 F-16 fighter planes from the US, costing $3-3.5 billion on April 12, 2006. Pakistan’s cabinet had also given approval for the purchase of upto 36 Chinese fighter aircraft J-10. [1] The F-16 will include the new C and D versions in addition to old A and B versions. [2] According to the Business Recorder, a leading financial newspaper in Pakistan, [3] Pakistan will be initially buying:

  • 36 J-10 fighters from China.
  • 8 JF-17 pre-production fighters from China.
  • 26 F-16 A/B Block-15OCU (ex-Peace Gate III/IV aircraft) from United States.
  • 18 F-16 C/D Block-52 also from United States, with an option for ordering another 18 Block-52 F-16s later (likely to be executed)

Pakistan will also be buying

  • 300 SD-10 BVR air to air missiles.
  • 500 AIM-120 AMRAAMs.
  • 18 targeting pods.
  • 500 joint direct attack munitions.

Current Air Fleet

Some 70 of the Mirages have been given ROSE upgrades - allowing them to either perform high-altitude air-superiority missions or specialized surface strike missions. The F-7PGs and F-16s are the PAF's main multirole fighter aircraft - while the F-7P is a limited interceptor/ground-strike aircraft. It is likely however that the PAF will procure another 26 F-16A/Bs to start retiring its F-7Ps.

Current Aircraft
Pakistan Air Force Aircraft Fleet
Aircraft Inducted Attrition Current Role
Lockheed Martin F-16A Block-15 30* 6 24* Multi-Role
Lockheed Martin F-16B Block-15 12 2 10 Training & Multi-Role
Chengdu F-7PG 48 2 46 Interceptor
Chengdu FT-7PG 9 0 9 Training
Chengdu F-7P Skybolt 120 30? ~90 Interceptor & Ground-Support
Chengdu FT-7P Skybolt 15  ?? ~15 Training
Dassault Mirage ROSE-I (Mirage-IIIEA) (Refurbished: Ex-Australian) 32 3 29 Interceptor
Dassault Mirage ROSE-I (Mirage-IIIDP) 5 1 4 Training & Interceptor
Dassault Mirage ROSE-II (Mirage-VEF) (Refurbished: Ex-French) 19 3 16 Strike & Ground-Support
Dassault Mirage ROSE-II (Mirage-VDF) (Refurbished: Ex-French) 6 0 6 Training & Strike & Ground-Support
Dassault Mirage ROSE-III (Mirage-VEF) (Refurbished: Ex-French) 14 0 14 Precision Strike
Dassault Mirage-IIIEP 18 6 12 Interceptor & Ground-Support
Dassault Mirage-IIIEL (Refurbished: Ex-Lebanese) 9 0 9 Interceptor & Ground-Support
Dassault Mirage-IIIDA (Refurbished: Ex-Australian) 7 0 7 Training
Dassault Mirage-IIIRP 13 1? ~12 Reconnaissance
Dassault Mirage-VPA3 12 3 9 Naval Support
Dassault Mirage-VPA2 18 3 15 Ground Support
Dassault Mirage-VPA 28 7? ~21 Ground Support
Dassault Mirage-VDPA2 2 0 2 Training
Nanchang Q-5/A-5C 52 12+ 30-40 Ground-Support & Tactical Strike
Chengdu FT-6 ~15  ??  ?? Fighter Conversion (Advanced Jet Training)
Chengdu FT-5 ~20  ??  ?? Fighter Conversion (Advanced Jet Training)
Hondgu K-8 12 0 12 + (27 on order) Basic & Intermediate Jet Training
Lockheed Martin T-37 20  ??  ?? Basic Jet Training
Super Mushak MFI-395 20  ??  ?? Primary Training
Mushak MFI-17 80  ??  ?? Primary Training
Falcon DA-20 2 0 2 ELINT/ECM
Lockheed Martin C-130B/E 16 6? ~10 + (6 On Order) Medium-Lift Transport
Antonov An-26 1 0 1 Medium-Lift Transport
CN-235 4 0 4 V.I.P & Light-Lift Transport
HAMC Y-12(II) 1 0 1 Light-Lift Transport
Boeing 707 3 0 3 VIP Transport
Fokker F-27 200 2 0 2 Light Transport
Falcon-20 1 0 1 VIP Transport
Super King Air 1 0 1 Light Transport
L-100 1 0 1 Light Transport

* Includes two recently inducted upgraded F-16A Block-15 from the US.

  • ROSE: Retrofit Of Strike Element: Is actually the major (Avionics + Radar) upgrade that the PAF Mirage fleet under went during the 90s.
  • ROSE-I: This included upgraded cockpit instrumentation, Grifo-M Radar and weapons system reconfiguration. (BVR-able).
  • ROSE-II: This included the Sagem implemented MAESTRO Nav/Attack System. (Strike).
  • ROSE-III: This included the Sagem MAESTRO Nav/Attack and FLIR.


Ground SAM vehicles

  • Crotale 2000/3000/4000, approx 25 systems :
  • Stinger FIM-92, 100 Systems:
  • RBS-70 Rayrider, 133 Launchers, 400 Missiles :
  • Matra Mistral :
  • HQ-2B(SA-2), approx 12 launchers 400msl :
  • PL-9, combined with twin 35/37mm guns :
  • GDF-002 35mm radar Controlled Systems, approx 200 :

Major Conflicts

The PAF recorded the first kill on 10 April, 1959 when an Indian Air Force English Electric Canberra plane on photo reconnaissance mission over Rawalpindi was shot down.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965


See the main article: Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

On the 6th of September 1965 war broke out between India and Pakistan. During the beginning of this offensive a PAF F-104 shot down an Indian Air Force Mystère IV with one of its sidewinders making the first combat kill with a Mach 2-capable aircraft. Pakistan made counter attacks on Indian soil using F-104, F-86, B-57 and RT-33A. The war lasted for 23 days and although the war ended indecisively with both parties retreating to the original line of control in the disputed Kashmir region, both in Pakistan and India, it is considered a glorious victory for their country.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 the PAF recorded the first combat kill of the war 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. Though the war ended in a stalemate, the PAF was hailed for its performance.

The Six Day War


See the main article: Six-Day War.

In between the 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 3 kills without losing any of their own planes.

The Six-Day War between Israel and a number of Arab countries in 1967. During this conflict the PAF sent personnel to Egypt, Jordan and Syria to support the Arabs in their battle against the Israelis. PAF pilots managed to shoot down ten Israeli aircraft, including [[Mirages, Mystères and Vautours, without losses on their own side. The PAF pilots operated with Egyptian, Jordanese and Iraqi combat aircraft.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

See the main article: Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 saw Pakistan defeated in the east and the subsequent formation of Bangladesh. The PAF was heavily outnumbered in East Pakistan and the entire eastern wing including the main air base in Dhaka was destroyed. In West Pakistan, there were additional losses and the PAF lost a quarter of its air force in the war - including some fratricides. Despite some aerial victories, it had failed to provide reconnaissance or cover for its ground troops. But it fared slightly better in light of the poor performance by the other military wings, the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Navy.

Yom Kippur War

See the main article: Yom Kippur War.

During this war 16 PAF pilots volunteered to leave for the Middle East in order to support Egypt and Syria but by the time they arrived Egypt had already agreed on a cease-fire. Syria remained in a state of war against Israel so the PAF pilots became instructors there and formed the A-flight of 67 Squadron at Dumayr AB. Later on PAF pilot Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi was honored by the Syrian government.

Soviet-Afghan War


See the main article: Soviet-Afghan War.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 in support of the pro-Soviet government in Kabul which was being hard-pressed by Mujahadeen rebel forces marked the start of a decade-long occupation. Mujahadeen rebels continued to harass the occupying Soviet military force as well as the forces of the Afghan regime that it was supporting. The war soon spilled over into neighboring Pakistan, with a horde of refugees fleeing to camps across the border in an attempt to escape the conflict. In addition, many of the rebels used Pakistan as a sanctuary from which to carry out forays into Afghanistan, and a steady flow of US-supplied arms were carried into Afghanistan from staging areas in Pakistan near the border. This inevitably resulted in border violations by Soviet and Afghan aircraft attempting to interdict these operations. Between May 1986 and November 1988, PAF F-16s have shot down at least eight intruders from Afghanistan. The first three of these (three Afghan Su-22s) were shot down by two pilots from No. 9 Squadron. Pilots of No. 14 Squadron destroyed the remaining three intruders (one Soviet MiG-21 and 2 MiG-23s). In most of these kills the AIM-9 Sidewinder was used, but at least one plane (a Su-22) was destroyed by cannon fire. Flight Lieutenant Khalid Mahmood is credited with three of these kills. At least one F-16 was lost in these battles, in the encounter between F-16s and three Soviet Air Force aircraft on 29 April 1987. However, the lost F-16 appears to have been shot down by a MiG-23. Pakistani F-16s typically carry two all-aspect AIM-9Ls on the wing tip rails along with a pair of AIM-9Ps on the outermost underwing racks. Pakistani F-16s have an important strike role, being fitted with the French-built Thomson-CSF ATLIS laser designation pod and the capability to deliver Paveway laser-guided bombs. The ATLIS was first fitted to Pakistani F-16s in January 1986. The F-16 became the first non-European aircraft to be qualified for the ATLIS pod.

Command Structure

Personnel and Command

The Air Force has about 65,000 active personnel with about 10,000 reserves. The Chief of the Air Staff holds the operational and administrative powers. He is assisted by a Vice Chief of Air Staff and 4 Deputy Chiefs of the Air Staff who control and administer the Administration, Operations, Maintenance and Electronics divisions of the PAF respectively. In addition, there are four non-operational directorates for Training, PR, Air Intelligence and Recruitment. The Air Headquarters as the HQ is called is situated in Rawalpindi. Major Air force bases are at Shorkot, Karachi, Quetta, Kamra, Peshawar, Mianwali, Sargodha and Risalpur. There are many war-time operational forward bases, civilian airstrips and runways as well as emergency motorways.

Kamra and Sargodha

The airbase in Kamra is named for Rashid Minhas who is honored in Pakistan as a Hero Martyr, and was given the highest honor of the Nishan-E-Haider. He is the only Nishan-e-Haider from the Pakistan Air Force to receive it. The PAF Base Mushaf at Sargodha, is named in honor of Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, Shaheed.

List of PAF Commanders

  1. Air Vice Marshal Allan Perry-Keane (August 1947 - February 1949)
  2. Air Vice Marshal R.L.R. Atcherley (February 1949 - May 1951)
  3. Air Vice Marshal L.W. Cannon (May 1951 - February 1955)
  4. Air Vice Marshal A.W.B. McDonald (February 1955 - July 1957)
  5. Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan (July 1957 - July 1965)
  6. Air Marshal M. Nur Khan (July 1965 - September 1969)
  7. Air Marshal A. Rahim Khan (September 1969 - March 1972)
  8. Air Marshal Zafar Chaudhry (March 1972 - April 1974)
  9. Air Marshal Zulfiqar Ali Khan (April 1974 - July 1978)
  10. Air Chief Marshal M. Anwar Shamim (July 1978 - March 1985)
  11. Air Marshal Jamal A. Khan (March 1985 - March 1988)
  12. Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah (March 1988 - November 1991)
  13. Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze Khan (November 1991 - November 1994)
  14. Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak (November 1994 - November 1997)
  15. Air Chief Marshal Pervaiz Mehdhi Qureshi (November 1997 - November 2000)
  16. Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir (November 2000 - February 2003)
  17. Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Sadaat (February 2003 - March 2006)
  18. Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed (March 2006 - Present)

*Air Vice Marshal Asghar Khan was the First native Pakistani C-in-C
*Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir died in F27 Fokker Crash


The current officer rank structure follows Royal Air Force designations: Air Force / Army / Navy

  • Air Chief Marshal / General / Admiral
  • Air Marshal / Lieutenant General / Vice Admiral
  • Air Vice Marshal / Major General / Rear Admiral
  • Air Commodore / Brigadier General / Commodore
  • Group Captain / Colonel / Captain
  • Wing Commander / Lieutenant Colonel / Commander
  • Squadron Leader / Major / Lieutenant Commander
  • Flight Lieutenant / Captain / Lieutenant
  • Flying Officer / Lieutenant / Lieutenant Junior Grade
  • Pilot Officer / Second Lieutenant / Ensign

Women in the PAF

Image:PAFpilots.jpg Saba Khan, Nadia Gul, Mariam Khalil and Saira Batool were among 36 aviation cadets who received their wings after three and a half years of intensive training in 2006, breaking into an all-male bastion of Pakistan Air Force. The four women are the first women pilots in the 59-year-history of the Pakistan air force. They trained in MFI-17 Super Mushfhak and T-37 jets, and depending on their abilities and the needs of the air force could go on to fly fighter jets.


The PAF emblem has a falcon with spread wings perched in the centre of the roundel. Called the "Shaheen" the falcon is a traditional eastern symbol. The verse is in Persian and it means "Be it land or sea, all is beneath my wings".


Image:Pakaf2.gif 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.

Engineering & Maintenance Capability

Since independence the PAF has developed and nurtured an extensive in house engineering, maintenance and repair capability. Indigenization of in house maintenance has enabled it to maintain force levels and high serviceability / reliability rates. The premier maintenance organizations supporting the mission of the Pakistan Air Force include F6 Rebuild Factory, Mirage Rebuild Factory, Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, Kamra Avionics Rebuild Factory, No 102 Air Engineering Depot (Aero-Engines Overhaul), No 107 Air Engineering Depot (Avionics), No 108 Air Engineering Depot (Ground Radars), No 109 Air Engineering Depot ( Missiles), No 130 Air Engineering Depot (Transport Aircraft Overhaul). R&D work is done at Central Technical Development Unit, Special Task Group & No 118 Software Engineering Depot. The PAF managed / supported Air Weapon Complex(AWC) produces a number of high technology armament and munitions for the air force.

The College of Aeronautical Engineering (CAE) situated at PAF Academy Risalpur graduates engineers in aerospace and avionics specialty and is a world class institute with a high reputation for the quality of its graduates and fulfills requirements for both army & navy as well as a number of foreign countries.

Apart from this Pre Trade Training School, School Of Aeronautics, School Of Electronics, Administrative Trades Training School and School Of Logistics fulfills different manpower requirements of Pakistan Air Force.

Future Plans (2009 - 2017)


In light of Pakistan's significant contribution to the War on Terror, the United States and major European countries such as Germany and France lifted defense related sanctions on Pakistan; enabling the country to once again seek advanced Western military hardware. Since the lift of sanctions, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) became heavily active in evaluating potential military hardware; such as new fighter planes, radars, land based air-defense systems, etc. The key factor had been the lifting of American sanctions on Pakistan, including restrictions on military combat aircraft, namely the Lockheed Martin F-16. The most favored aircraft by the PAF are F-16s; originally 55 new-built F-16C/D Block-52 and with an option for 20 more were supposed to be acquired (Janes, 2005). However the urgent relief needed in Kashmir after the October-8th Earthquake forced the PAF to postpone the deal; alongside the Erieye AEW&C deal with Sweden. Although the Erieye AEW&C deal was reportedly signed - the F-16 deal remains in question due to urgent needs for Kashmir relief funds and doubt over American willingness to supply weapons to Pakistan in the future.

Fighter Fleet

The Pakistan Air Force currently operates between 330 to 350 active combat aircraft; its fleet is mostly comprised of F-7P and Mirage III/V aircraft. Although 70 to 90 of the Mirages were given the ROSE-I and ROSE-II/III upgrades - the airframe life of these aircraft is constantly declining; and like the F-7P, will require replacement by 2014. The main workhorse of the Pakistan Air Force from 2014 will be the JF-17 Thunder medium-tech, multi-role fighter aircraft; developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) in China. At least 150 JF-17s are expected to be procured by the Pakistan Air Force by the end of 2015 - however the number may increase to 200 or even 250 by 2020 if F-16s cannot be procured. The JF-17 Thunder is a medium-weight multi-role fighter aircraft capable of using various types of Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) Air-to-Air Missiles, Within-Visual-Range (WVR) Air-to-Air Missiles and Air-to-Surface Precision-Guided Munitions (PGM). The aircraft will be capable of multi-weather as well as day and night operations; later versions inducted into the PAF will incorporate Infrared Search and Tracking (IRST) and Air-to-Air Refueling. Its avionics consist of a Pulse-Doppler radar with a track-and-search range of at least 100km and targeting range of at least 70km; the aircraft can engage multiple air or ground targets - as well as utilize Helmet-Mounted-Sight (HMS) and Electronic Counter Measure/Electronic Warfare (ECM/EW) systems. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Galileo Avionica/BAe "Selex" AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar is being sought by PAF for use on its later batch of JF-17s (25-50 aircraft). The JF-17 will replace the PAF's F-7P/FT-7P, Mirage-III/V, and Q-5 aircraft by 2013 - and be fully operational in large numbers by 2015.

In addition to JF-17s the Pakistan Air Force is aggressively pushing for the acquisition of another two or three types of advanced fighter aircraft - which boast more range and payload, as well as considerably more advanced avionics and ECM/EW systems than the JF-17. Currently the air force is interesting towards acquiring the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block-52/52+ and J-10 Vanguard; with the latter being a definite purchase while the former is still in considerable question/doubt. Originally up to 75 F-16C/D Block-52 and Block-52+ were supposed to be procured by 2015 and roughly 75 J-10 by 2017; however the tragic and catastrophic earthquake in Azad Kashmir forced the Pakistan Government to delay acquisition of F-16s. With the Kashmir relief operations are sapping the government's money - the Defense Ministry was considering a down-scaled F-16 order. On April-12th 2006 the Pakistan cabinet approved the purchase of up to 77 new and used F-16s; 36 new-built F-16C/D Block-52 and 26 used F-16A/B Block-15OCU will be procured. At least 36 J-10s (under designation of "FC-10") from China will be procured. The F-16 Block-52 and J-10 numbers may rise to a total of 150 depending on finances and requirement.

Reports indicate the PAF is pushing for 25 to 30 new generation fighters like the Rafale, EF-2000 or JAS-39 Gripen; however this has yet to be confirmed by officials or credible defense sources.

Strive for AEW&C Capability

The Pakistan Air Force is aggressively pushing for the introduction of Airborne Early Warning (AEW) systems; currently the PAF is close to finalizing a deal with Swedish firms Saab and Ericsson for 5-7 Saab-2000 Erieye AEW&C aircraft. It is likely that the PAF wants to induct these systems to not only capture enemy formations but also help coordinate relief for future disasters which may happen in Pakistan's mountainous north. However the Government of Pakistan has made it clear that there are other options for AWACS in case the Erieye deal did not fall through in favor of Pakistan; the most obvious option seems to be the Chinese Y-8 "Balance Beam" AEW system.

*According to Janes and Saab a deal involving 7 Saab-2000 Erieye AEW&C aircraft has been finalized with Pakistan; according to unofficial reports, one Saab-2000 is alredy being fitted with an Erieye system destined for Pakistan.

Air Defense

Sufficient funds will also be allocated for the modernization of land-based air-defense systems and C4I/IT systems. The Pakistan Air Force desires a new long-range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system (Strategy Centre); originally the Chinese FT-2000 was considered (Strategy Centre), however a deal could not fall through due to lack of Pakistani interest to buy. It is not clear what long-range SAM system the PAF is currently interested towards; rumors/unofficial reports suggest that the Pakistan Government is negotiating with Russia for the sale of long-range S-300-series SAMs. However India has strong political influence on Russia regarding strategic and military issues. The new port city of Gwadar in Pakistan as well as Pakistan's valuable strategic location are leading to warming relations with Russia - as compared to the early to mid-1990s. But due to current political and financial reasons the PAF's next long-range SAM may end up being the Chinese HQ-9 and/or FT-2000; it is likely that these missiles will also be Pakistan's Anti-Ballistic Missile system. For the replacement of Crotale short to medium-range SAMs the Pakistan Air Force is negotiating with Italy for the Spada-2000 short to medium-range SAM system; although Pakistan's relations with Europe have been mixed, Pak-Italian relations have been quite strong in the recent years, especially in the field of avionics. The Pakistan Air Force signed a deal for six AN/TPS-77 land-based three-dimensional tactical mobile radar system from the U.S; these systems may be supplemented by Czech Vera radar systems if they meet PAF expectations. The PAF also bought six advanced long-range mobile radar systems from China and is in the process of inducting them. A national C4I system is being developed, Air Weapons Complex may be on the forefront of its integration into the Pakistan Armed Forces.


The Air Force's logistical fleet is currently in the process of inducting six C-130E aircraft; after the induction of these aircraft the PAF's C-130 Medium-Lift Aircraft fleet will consist of roughly 12-16 aircraft. Four Indonesian CN-235s have been bought and inducted with another four or so likely to be ordered soon. It is unclear whether the PAF is pursuing a medium-lift transport aircraft to replace it's ageing C-130s; the C-130J was supposedly evaluated, but deemed too sophisticated and expensive for a prop-transport. The PAF may acquire the Chinese Y-9 or European A400 when the need to replace C-130s arises; but will likely not happen before 2012.


As the PAF's combat fleet become more sophisticated and advanced the importance of modern-day trainer aircraft arise. The PAF's current 1950-era T-37 and FT-5 aircraft cannot properly help train future JF-17, F-16 and possibly F-10 pilots; there is a significant difference between the basic technologies used. The JF-17, F-16 and F-10 use full Fly-by-Wire control systems, Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air missiles, HMD/HMS supported Within-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, Precision-Guided Air-to-Surface Munitions as well as other systems and doctrines that current PAF fighter aircraft do not use. The PAF's current T-37 and FT-5 aircraft will not be able to train pilots to their full potential; thus limiting their abilities on new fighters. That is why a good block of funds will likely be allocated for training; a field where the PAF can progress considerably in regardless of its financial or political issues. Currently the K-8 is being envisioned as the Pakistan Air Force's basic and intermediate jet-training aircraft currently performed by the ageing T-37; Hondgu (the manufacturer of K-8) designed a new Fly-by-Wire K-8 suitable for training future JF-17 and J-10 pilots. The PAF recently ordered 27 new K-8 aircraft, whether these will be the latest K-8 version is unknown; however by the time T-37s are replaced, as many as 75 K-8s should be in PAF service - so in theory quite a few of them should be equipped with Fly-by-Wire and other advanced systems.

The ex-Chief of Air Staff - Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Sadaat - disclosed that a two-seat JF-17 would be the PAF's advanced-lead in fighter-trainer, currently performed by the FT-5. However Hondgu - manufacturers of K-8 - recently test flew their new-generation L-15 advanced-lead in fighter-trainer; the L-15 uses a fully digital Fly-by-Wire system, advanced avionics (including a glass cockpit) and it can be easily modified as a light attack fighter. Perhaps the PAF may acquire 20-25 L-15s (or more) for its advanced-jet and lead-in fighter trainer requirement as opposed to two-seat JF-17s.


Between 2010 and 2020 the Pakistan Air Force will undergo massive change in not only fleet, but also radars, SAMs, weapon-systems, doctrines and organization. Considerable amount of funds and manpower would be required over this crucial time period; the induction of up to 330 new fighter jets, up to 100 new trainers, hundreds of new SAM missiles and systems, new radar systems, AWACS, etc. However a considerable change of doctrine and method will occur, every fighter aircraft in the PAF will utilize Beyond-Visual-Range air-to-air missile systems; such as the R- and T-Darter, SD-10, and perhaps even MICA and AIM-120C. The induction of new strategic weapons such as the Babur cruise missile and H-2/H-4 long-range air-to-surface glide-bombs will also change the PAF's attack doctrine. In the future the PAF's fighter fleet will be composed entirely of multirole fighter jets performing a large variety of roles; to not only support the Pakistan Army and Navy, but also safeguard the nation and give it a new since of revived pride.

Mission statement

Image:Pakistani Air Force Ensign.gif Image:Pakaf-logo.gif The primary mission statement of the PAF was given by the founder of Pakistan during his address to the passing out cadets of the PAF Academy Risalpur in 1948. This statement has been taken as an article of faith by all coming generations of PAF personnel.

" 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." Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah PAF Academy, Risalpur 13th April, 1948


1) IDEAS 2004 Interview with Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Sadaat.
2) November - December 2005 Interview with Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Sadaat.
3) March 2006 Interview with Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Sadaat

See also

External links

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