- Note: In this article the author has discussed Pakistan Armed Forces at Glance in 2022, mainly procurements by Pakistan Armed Forces & other achievements in civil aviation.
- PAKISTAN AIR FORCE
- CHENGDU J-10CE Dragon
On Friday, 04th March 2022, Pakistan Air Force inducted the first batch of Chengdu J-10CE Vigorous Dragon consisting of 6 airframes in its fleet. PAF inducted J-10CE’s in the No. 15 Multirole Squadron “COBRAS” under the 33rd Tactical Wing, Central Air Command. Wing Commander Rahim Shahzada (Officer Commanding No. 15 Multi Role Squadron) led the formation. The PAF ordered an initial 36 aircrafts from Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC).
Chengdu J-10CE is capable of all-weather operations. Chengdu J-10CE is an Omni Role 4.5+ Generation aircraft, capable of carrying out Air-to-Air & Air-to-Ground strikes. An Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) and Infrared Search and Track (IRST) as a general feature of Dragon. The J-10C also features advanced avionics such as Laser Warning Detector (LWD), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS).
It has 11 hard points (6x Under-wing, 2x under-intake & 3x under-fuselage) allowing Dragon to carry PL-10, PL-15 and a variety of precision guided munitions.
Before that, the PAF’s missile arsenal used AIM-120C AAMRAM in F-16 Fighting Falcon & SD-10A Radar-guided air-to-air missile in JF-17 Thunder. US is also developing a BVR missile named as ‘AIM-260 JATM’ (Joint Advanced Tactical Missile) to compete with Chinese PL-15 BVR.
2. PAC JF-17C Thunder
During 12th International Defense Expo and Seminar (IDEAS), Karachi. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) exposed technical specifications & complete walk around officially for the first time. JF-17C Thunder beckoned whole world to the PAC stall. JF-17 Thunder is a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) developed jointly by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) & Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC). JF-17 Thunder is combat proven aircraft, which means it also participated on 27th February 2019 PAF’s famous surgical strike OPERATION SWIFT RETORT at Balakot district, it conducted airstrikes using multiple Mk. 83 REKs (Range Extension Kit).
JF-17C Thunder is also powered by Russian Kilmov RD-93 turbofan afterburning engine allowing Thunder to fly at a speed of Mach 1.8. JF-17C Thunder has a KLJ-7A Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA). It has 8 hard points (2x wingtip, 4x under-wing, and 1 x under-fuselage) with competency for dual ejector racks each under-wing. JF-17C Thunder can carry SD-10A Radar-guided air-to-air, PL-15 BVR, PL-10 (IR High Off Boresight) to eradicate IAF’s SU-30Mki’s & Rafael’s constipation. It has an AESA Radar to spot its prey extended ranges.
3. FAREWELL HAIDERS
On December, Pakistan Air Force decided to number plate its most deadly Mirage squadron in Southern Air Command (SAC). No. 8 Tactical Attack Squadron “Haiders”. No. 8 Squadron & along with No. 2 Squadron (JF-17A) assists Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) & Pakistan Navy for rapid air strike support in Arabian Sea, after the integration of JF-17A (No. 2 Sqn) for Subsonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missile C-802 AK and the charge of Arabian Sea was taken from Haiders.
Number Plating is a process in Air Force, in which all aircrafts were grounded, all personals (including Pilots, Crew and Technicians) are posted out to other Squadron & Air Bases. Squadron remains alive on papers, but operations were postponed. During the time, Air Force is preparing for the re-equipment with a new aircraft, new members & at a new location.
As time passes and PAF is progressing towards advancement. So, PAF decided to replace its aging Mirages with a next generation modern fighter jet. According to current situation of Pakistan Military, Chengdu J-10CE is in first choice of Pakistan Air Force. Because the second batch of Chengdu J-10CE’s from China are painted in Dark Olive Green Tactical Camouflage same as PAF Mirages of 8 Squadron. Final decision is still not publicized by Pakistan Air Force.
Before number plating, no. 08 Tactical Attack Squadron “HAIDERS” be situated stationed at PAF Masroor under 32nd Tactical Wing, Southern Air Command (SAC). Mirage variants that 8 Squadron operated were:
|Dassault Mirage IIIEA|
|Dassault Mirage 5DD|
|Dassault Mirage VDR|
4. NEW HOME FOR AGEING COBRAS
Before the induction of Chengdu J-10CE in No. 15 Squadron. 15 Squadron nicknamed as “COBRAS” are equipped with Dassault Mirage III & V. This squadron has the honor of taking part in PAF’s OPERATION SWIFT RETORT. During OPERATION SWIFT RETORT, a formation Dassault Mirages VPA2/3 successfully destroyed the target near Rajouri & Poonch Sector, IOJ&K with H-4 SOW (Stand Off Weapon).
This accurate strike bared operational capabilities of Pakistan Air Force and especially legendary Dassault Mirages.
Instead of retiring Mirages, PAF decided to raise a separate squadron, no. 50 Tactical Attack Squadron “SAF SHIKAN” stationed at PAF Minhas under 33rd Tactical Wing, Central Air Command (CAC). Mirage variants that 50 Squadron have are:
|Dassault Mirage VPA2|
|Dassault Mirage VPA3|
|Dassault Mirage VDD|
- OTHER NEW BIRDS
- Bombardier Global 6000
In October’22, Pakistan Air Force acquired a Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global 6000 C/N 9698) [ex T7-CAM]. This newly acquired Bombardier Global 6000 [J-758] maybe procured for EW/ELINT/AEW&C purposes. If it is true then, BG6000 will be upgraded by Turkish Defense Industry, Turkish Aerospace Industry & ASELSAN under a program called HAVA SOJ (Stand Off Jammer). The aircraft will be equipped with powerful Jammers and Electronic Support Measure (ESM) to defeat modern BVRAAM’s and AESA Radars. But absolute plans of Pakistan Air Force is not cleared.
2. Airbus A319
The Pakistan Air Force has acquired a single Airbus A319-112 (Registration: A-1102, built in 1999) | CALLSIGN: PAF1102. This aircraft is primarily used by PAF as a transporter, but Air Force have plans for converting it into a Multitasking Platform. i.e., an ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) platform, utility, and Signals & Electronic Intelligence (SIGINT & ELINT). However, no official decision/statements from Pakistan Air Force.
3. AERIAL REFUELLER UPGRADATION
In January’22, Ukraine based company UkrSpecExport successfully upgraded one of Pakistan Air Force’s Illyushin Il-78MP Midas (MRTT), Tail No. [R11-003]. The Midas, which was modernized by Ukroboronprom’s Nikolayev (Mykolayiv) Aircraft Repair Plant (NARP). The contract was taken on between Pakistan Air Force & UkrSpecExport worth $30 million in June 2020.
Previously in 2008, Pakistan Air Force procured 04 Illyushin Il-78 from Ukraine, fitted with detachable fuel tanks and UPAZ refueling pods allowing Big Bird to feed Mirages, Thunders & newly inducted Dragons.
- PAKISTAN NAVAL AIR ARM
- UPDATE ON SEA SULTAN
Pakistan Naval Air Arm is going to switch their Martin P-3C Orion with Embraer E190-1000 Lineage jetliner. These E190’s will be converted into a Long-Range Maritime Patrolling Aircraft (LRMPA) and this program is named as ‘SEA SULTAN’ to become aware of threats in Arabian Sea and to dare Indian Navy’s Boeing P-8A Poseidon.
In July’22, Pakistan Naval Air Arm come by with 2 more used E190-1000 Lineage. These aircraft are currently at Pretoria, South Africa where these new birds will be converting into a LRMPA. Now, Pakistan Naval Air Arm have a total 03 E190-1000 Lineage for SEA SULTAN. Pakistan Navy has contracted with Leonardo, an Italy based aerospace & Defense Company and Paramount Group of South Africa for the conversion of E190’s to a Long-Range Maritime Patrolling Aircraft (LRMPA). Pakistan signed a main contract with Leonardo. Paramount Group will grip Pre-Conversion, maintenance, repair, and overhaul of E190s.
In 2021, Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi (Retd.), during the induction ceremony of 1st Embraer E190-1000 Lineage in PNA’s fleet, he stated: “The Pakistan Navy will replace P-3C Orion with 10 commercial aircraft.”
Fine points of conversion are still not officially disclosed but it will have an Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) along with a Search and Rescue (SAR) suite.
2. ACQUISITION OF QATARI SEA KING HELICOPTERS
In January’22, Pakistan Naval Air Arm procured 10 Qatar Emiri Forces Westland WS-61 Seaking to Pakistan Naval Air Arm’s No. 111 ASW/AWV Squadron “ARABIAN SHARKS”. Role of Westland WS-61 Sea King helicopters in Pakistan Naval Air Arm is Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) & Search and Rescue (SAR) and recently Sea Kings worked as a key asset of the Pakistan Navy in flood relief operations in coastal areas of Sindh.
- PAKISTAN ARMY AVIATION
Pakistan Army Aviation didn’t add any flying machines in 2022 however they worked very well and effectively against terrorism (especially TTP) in Pakistan.
Pakistan is procuring an upgraded export version of the CAIC Z-10ME attack helicopter for service in the Pakistan Army Aviation (PAA) according to its commanding officer, Major General Syed Najeeb Ahmed. Moreover, the addition of CAIC Z-10ME All-Weather Attack Helicopters will also help to take the Offensive Capability of Pakistan Armed Forces to a whole next level against India which is the archrival of both Pakistan & China.
- COMMERCIAL AVIATION
“AUQAAB672, cleared for take-off, Runway25L!”
- FLY JINNAH
Fly Jinnah (FJ) is a newly established Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) based in Karachi, PK. Fly Jinnah is operated & owned jointly by Lakson Group of Pakistan and Air Arabia Group of United Arab Emirates under a Joint-Venture (JV). Airline successfully inaugurated their flight operation on 1st November’22. 9P672 operating on an Airbus A320 with 140 passengers onboard on their way to Islamabad from Karachi.
Fly Jinnah is second airline (after AirBlue) in Pakistan to add Airbus A320-200 with Sharklets in its taskforce. Sharklets may refer to extension upward or downward on wing tips. Sharklets adds 200-250kg in airframes and drag, but they provide better takeoff performance and rate-of-climb, higher optimum altitude, higher residual aircraft value and improves the fuel efficiency of an aircraft.
Currently, Fly Jinnah operates 03 Airbus A320-200(SL) with 04 destinations (Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar & Quetta). Henceforward, Fly Jinnah planned to start international flight operations from Karachi to Sharjah.
- AIRBLUE TO SKARDU
On 7th July’22, AirBlue flight number PA251, rolled out of Islamabad on the horizon to Skardu, the Land of Beauty. Afterwards, Pakistan International Airlines, AirBlue is the second airline to land on the asphalt of Skardu. This flight operation will further boost the tourism industry and economy of Gilgit-Baltistan as well as Pakistan and will help to reduce the scarcity of flights.
Skardu is the main hub for tourism, trekking, and expedition in Gilgit-Baltistan. It is located at an altitude of 8,202 feet at the confluence of the Indus and Shigar Rivers. The Indus River flows through the valley and separates the Karakoram Range from Himalayas Range.
- FLIGHT SIMULATORS FOR PTC
L3Harris has signed a contract with Pakistan International Airlines to provide an Airbus A320ceo full flight simulator to the airline’s training center in Karachi, Pakistan. First Full Flight Simulator (FFS) was delivered to PTC in February 2022. This initiative saves money, which was spent on the training of pilots to send them abroad for training. PIA is the launch customer RealitySeven E (Evolution) Airbus A320 Full Flight Simulator (FFS) in Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) Region.
Author: Muhammed Hamza Bin Yasir