Does Pakistan Really Need More F-16s?

Posted on October 16, 2009
Filed Under >Imran H. Khan, Economy & Development, Foreign Relations, Law & Justice
Total Views: 48766


Imran H. Khan

On October 13, 2009 Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) participated in the rolling out ceremony of the first of 18 F-16C Block 52, one of the most capable versions of the aircraft, which is flown by the U.S. Air Force and numerous other countries.

U.S. Congressman Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) said that Pakistan “is the point of the spear” in U.S. efforts to combat terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Pakistan has paid nearly $2 Billion for the aircrafts and parts. Between the Egyptian and Pakistani orders, the Lockheed plant should remain humming till 2012, employing 2,100.

ACM Suleman said that this type of aircraft has been valuable in delivering munitions with precision.

I am sure that the choice of type and number of planes must have been made with due considerations by the senior PAF staff and the Pakistan parliament. But there is something that deeply troubles me about this photograph (more photos here).

Does Pakistan really need $80Million aircraft to bomb the terrorists hiding in FATA and elsewhere?

As an ex-PAF officer myself and coming from a PAF family, I am a strong opponent of using air power to bomb civilian targets in the first place; as it causes unnecessary civilian deaths. The strengths of this plane are superior radar, long endurance and ability to deliver beyond visual range missiles. None of these attributes are needed for the troubles at hand.

The current PAF inventory could easily have been upgraded to handle newer precision weapons at a fraction of the cost. An even better option would be to spread the $80M over a combination of COIN (Counter Insurgency) aircrafts like those from Pilatus or Embraer, helicopters and Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles UAVs. These types of planes would provide the eyes (uavs), mobility (helicopters) and teeth (COIN aircrafts) to an organization like Army Aviation or Frontier Constabulary Air Force. Air power should only be used for close air support of security forces.

Moreover, there is no transfer of technology involved that I am aware of. PAF should focus on evolving JF-17 that it has developed in collaboration with China. Modern jet fighters are a combination of platform, avionics and weapons. JF-17 is an adequate platform. We tend to suffer from short memory. It was only 1965 when US embargoed all military support and PAF had to replace its predominant US inventory with Chinese jets. My father was the first air attaché to Beijing and over saw the incredible Chinese support at the time of our needs.

Even better, given the sad state of primary education in Pakistan, this money could have educated half the school going kids for an year. Right now we only provide money for one out of forty children in our budget.

Additionally, this ceremony could not have come at a worse time as Pakistanis are actively debating the nature of US Pakistan relationship under the Obama administration. There are many in Pakistan who feel that the Kerry-Lugar bill’s language is an interference in the internal affairs of the country. F-16 could come to represent the Symbol of Subservience rather than that of pride.

Article 245 of the Constitution of Pakistan states:

The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.

Right now Pakistanis are being bombed by an external aggressor (US Drones flown by CIA) and being blown up in terrorist attacks from an internal aggressor on a nearly daily basis. Would ACM Suleman be present in Fort Worth if he was fulfilling his Constitutional obligation?

Imran Khan is an ex-PAF officer and technology entrepreneur who blogs at Planet Earth.

48 Comments on “Does Pakistan Really Need More F-16s?”

  1. Aamir Ali says:
    October 16th, 2009 4:43 pm

    What a foolish question considering Pakistan was only recently threatened by “surgical strikes” by India and has been using F-16′s to attack terrorist fortifications with precision munitions in tribal areas.

    Don’t forget that non-supply of F-16′s was the main complaint Pakistanis have had against USA since 1990, now finally you are getting the aircraft and again you complain ??!

    A lot of terrorists in Pakistan and Indians across the border will be unhappy Pakistan is getting these aircraft.

  2. Obaid says:
    October 16th, 2009 4:57 pm

    Where is our Ghairat? We take F!6s from same country that passed Kerry Lugar bill? We should reject these planes until Kerry Lugar bill is revoked. Let’s be Ghairatmand, now that Ghairat season is on.

  3. Imran Khan says:
    October 16th, 2009 4:59 pm

    Imran, I always wanted to ask this question but didn’t come across the right person. Why can’t we build our own jets. If we have the missile technology, and we can build tanks and armoured vehicles why can’t we manufacture fighter or military purpose planes? I know building a jet engine is not an easy task but Pakistan has brains that can turn it into reality.

  4. Unaiza Fatima says:
    October 16th, 2009 5:18 pm

    I am not even closer to be an expert over the subject, but in my layman’s understanding, I agree that Pakistan should get an immediate supply of enhance equipment including upgraded aircrafts like these for precision strikes against terrorist facilities in rugged terrains of tribal belt.
    I agree that perhaps unmanned drones can be a slightly better but sooner or later, we do expect to root out the terrorists, then what would remain the purpose of the unmanned vehicles. F-16s would still provide a longer term strategic deterrence for our defence.
    If we spend the same amount in developing the yet inferior (at least as compared to this new lot of aircrafts), we may have to wait for a few years. What we need is an immediate solution at the moment.
    #To Obaid:
    Where is our ghairat when we use the life saving medicines imported from the country which passed the KL bill? Where is our ghairat when we use the electric bulb that was invented by a person who was born in the country which passed KL bill? There is a never ending list of nearly EVERYTHING that we owe to that country that passed the KL bill?

    Yes indeed education had never been our primary concern, but not buying any more military hardware and spending the sum on primary education and health care is not a solution to anything. This is an unbalanced thinking.

  5. Abdul Hai says:
    October 16th, 2009 8:59 pm

    For once I agree with a Pakistani air force officer. It is a shame to buy $2.00 billion worth of planes when the money could be used for something worthwhile like education and economic development. I am pretty sure Mr. 10 percent and his accomplices in the air force and army has benefited by this transaction. We would need to bomb our own people if the rich generals and politicians shared some of the money with poor persons who do not have nothing to eat and succumbs to offers from terrorists.

  6. AA says:
    October 16th, 2009 9:26 pm

    Imran is preaching to wrong audience…

    Back in the times when F-16 was being considered for PAF, I asked one of my friend why this airplane and not Tigershark that was offered to Pakistan on technology transfer basis (Actually Northrop was ready to give entire assembly line), my friend replied that it was convergence of interests of the two countries… AVM Shamim wanted high tech toys and we got them. Well, that is history. Pressler Amendment showed how vulnerable F-16 is to arms embargo – so why are we getting deeper into it? It is a game of dependence that Uncle Sam wants to play to keep its own arm manufacturers in business and keep PAF under threat of sanctions if PAF ever operated F-16 near the limits imposed by US on the operational envelope.

    Delivery of 24 F-16s is to be completed in three years – by that time mess in Afghanistan will be over (?), AQ Khan story will resurface and most of the airplanes will be stored in Arizona due to a new arms embargo… Besides, the present acquisition does not really change the balance of power or the war fighting capability of the PAF – it barely makes up the attrition.

    I like F-16 too but the cost has skyrocketed and this bird is expensive to maintain…

    Much of the technical stuff Imran mentioned is beyond grasp of teenagers who are protesting this post.

    Citizen of this country are going to pay dearly for the short sighted decisions and misappropriation of “aid.”

  7. conerned says:
    October 16th, 2009 10:40 pm

    I agree that pak should definitely focus on the JF-17 project with china. But it will not hurt to have a batch of F16s as well. Maybe half the size would have been enough (but its not my judgement call). This purchase will also benefit Lockheed Martin a lot.

    However, after all these years with the unpleseant foreign policy of USA against Pak, PAF still trusts them? What will they do about the tracking devices, which they cannot find on the fighterjets? These planes will reveal more secrets than anyone could have done.

  8. adeel says:
    October 16th, 2009 10:43 pm

    In the sage words of Dr. Farrukh Saleem, “We ought to race a race that we can win. We can continue to race a race that we are bound to lose. Or, begin a new race that we may be able to win — or at least not lose.”


  9. faraz says:
    October 16th, 2009 10:44 pm

    Imran Khan, I have question about block 52. When one country is buying a new aircraft, they have to think in window of 10-15 years.

    With new block of F-16 like block-60 or block-70, F-22 raptor, SU-35 and F-30, do you think this is the aircarft (F-16 block 52) which can give us “air power ” balance against our enemies for 10-15 years?

    If not then what is advantage?
    Why don’t invest more in JK-17 and some air defence?

  10. Aqil says:
    October 17th, 2009 12:24 am

    I’m a lay man on this topic and have a few questions for more informed people on this blog:

    1. 20 odd aircrafts for $2b. This is a huge amount of money, so can someone explain as to how just 20 F-16′s are bringing such a significant improvement to our air defense for this to be a really worthwhile deal?

    2. How many J-17′s could we have got for this amount and how would you assess the quantative and qualitative difference between the two options (larger no of somewhat inferior J-17s vs. 20 sophisticated F-16s)?

    3. What about other aircrafts like Mirage? In the past, I’ve heard that it’s prohibitively expensive, but is that still true when each F-16 is about $80 m or so? Also, how are the French when it comes to giving spare parts?

  11. naive says:
    October 17th, 2009 2:35 am

    This F16 deal is not based on what Pakistan needs and what makes sense. Any deal of this magnitude is never based on needs and wants. I think the audience should know… this is Pakistan!

  12. DARWEESH says:
    October 17th, 2009 3:51 am

    While preparing a country,s defence strategies, the top management has to go by geo-political realities.
    Bharat(India) has never accepted the Two Nation Theory in Indo-Pak Subcontinent which resulted in the creation of a Muslim state of Pakistan and further got the strength by a Muslim Bengal state (Bangla Desh) on Bharat,s eastern borders.So she has always been planning to get this undone.
    Pakistan strategists had to plan a counter offence strategy thus F16 ,Nuclear bombs became necessatity for us.
    Though its neither in Bharats interests nor in our interests to keep teeming millions hungry and uneducated, but for the mistrust between two nations, we are in a situation where both countires need political sagacity of great leaders/statesmen of the status of Quid-e-Azam and Mahatma Gandhi.
    Both nations have hundreds of political clowns but dont have real political stalwarts, so bleak future for our future generations.
    May Allah bless Pakistan, Ameen.

  13. Meet the Patriots says:
    October 17th, 2009 5:54 am

    >>>>Don’t forget that non-supply of F-16’s was the main complaint Pakistanis have had against USA since 1990, now finally you are getting the aircraft and again you complain ??!

    I think that is an unfair comment directed at Imran. I am not one of Imran’s fans but he has makes a valid point. The parked and obsolete F-16s had become a liability for America. Therefore it was in America’s own interest to dump them on Pakistan. The agenda of ‘punishing’ Pakistan by with-holding the F-16s was just not working. Besides the world has moved on since the ’90′s. Seeing the success of the JF-17 thunder, America wants Pakistan to once again become dependent on its unwanted junk so that aid (‘spare parts’) can be stopped again whenever Pakistan does not toe the line. May be we will soon discover that there were other incentives for Mr 10% to have accepted a fleet of US jets unsuitable for the Republic of Chad when India has acquired AWACS, nuclear submarines, satellites and the nuclear deal from America and elsewhere. Moreover in the recent dog-fights with India, the US Air Force has already educated Indians on how to deal with F-16s. I also read somewhere that France had offered a similar deal to Pakistan when Sarkozy was about to visit but Zardari did not get enough commission. Therefore Zardari not only did not want the nuclear technology deal he even cancelled Sarkozy’s visit. That is what defines Pakistan’s national interest.

  14. shakeel says:
    October 17th, 2009 7:23 am

    While it is true that air raids cause many civilians deaths, it is also true that one has no choice but use that advantage of air over the terrorists.

    Pak army was successful in Swat due to these air raids and hopefully, will have the same result in this new operation vs the terrorists. Of course, with the technology of Drones that Pak now has (although they are not fitted with missiles but are only for information purposes), these air raids are more specific and cause less civilians deaths.

    One can read up more on Pak drones here:

    Pak needs F-16′s and even more of these. Like Qaid E Azzam said: a strong country needs a strong air force.

  15. ShahidnUSA says:
    October 17th, 2009 7:36 am

    The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

  16. Salman says:
    October 17th, 2009 9:02 am

    The writer of this article is absolutely right in making the point that we do not need these aircrafts to fight against militants in tribal belt.But he is missing a point.Are we really going to use these aircrafts in fight against militants?I think the answer is NO.I think PAF chief gave this statement only as a formality.Otherwise these aircrafts are Pakistan’s assets and we can use them anywhere ,whenever we require.

  17. Imran says:
    October 17th, 2009 10:31 am

    Maybe Pakistan Air force can use donkeys to deliver critical payloads at high noon. Instead of efficient, rapid and time tested payload delivery system.

  18. hussain says:
    October 17th, 2009 10:48 am

    We need the plane against India, they are also getting more wepens. Dont think they wont use it on us. They made a-bomb first then we had to make. Those who dont have friendly neighbours needs wepens.
    Fozia Wahab lies on thori si siyasat(aag tv), she says PPP never worked with army? What did bhutto do?

    Pakistan will be democratic if we kick out Zardari and Nawaz out of Pakistan and its politics. Where are the people who started a rally against Musharaf and for Ifthekar(friend of Nawaz), they need to start a rally against Zardari amd sheitan-bill(kerry lugar). PPP has failed, lets kick them out.

  19. Geeyes says:
    October 17th, 2009 11:43 am

    Hello friends, greetings from India. It is gratifying to see a nice site and the comments by and large, to the point. I am not here to comment on Pakistan’s needs, but to point out a misconception that India wants to avenge and takeover Pakistan. We have enough problems alreday and you really believe that we look forward to another 180 million souls. I don’t think so. There are hawks on both sides. Some of them from your side talk about liberating Hyderabad that doesn’t mean an average Pakistani wants unending war to put the clock back. If Pakistan wants to get out of the American and Chinese clutches she has to grow economically stronger. Outwardly you see American chain makes noise but there is a Chinese one you do not see. Few realize how Chinese are using Pakistan just to counter India. Let us grow and prosper to gather.

  20. shi says:
    October 17th, 2009 12:49 pm

    No? May be Pakistan only needs big big cars with big big tyres…

  21. auk says:
    October 17th, 2009 1:05 pm

    The last time we spent any serious money on upgrading PAF’s air fleet was back in the 80s. Since then its been mostly maintaining the existing fleets and buying the cheap ones from China or the overhauled (old) Mirages from Australia without costing the nation much. Did anyone remember the 90s during one of Benazir’s tenure when she was going to spend over $3B on Mirage 2000s from France, , but the air chief at the time (Abbas Khattak) got in the way, saving the country some precious foreign exchange. That was the time when Pakistan perhaps did not have total reserves of $3B. It would have been a cool $300+ Million that Zardari couldn’t pocket.
    As for the timing of this, these latest planes were bought from some of the money that US has been giving to Pakistan since 2001, and the deal was done under Musharraf. Zardari has nothing to do with this. I remember a lot of deliberations within the defense community when US offered to sell more that 18 F16s (40+) to Pakistan. This was around the time the 2005 Earthquake happened, and the PAF instead went with the option of upgrading some old planes and then reserving the right to buy a much smaller number (18 as we know today) of new ones.
    Putting this all in perspective, it would be another 25-30 years before we get another chance to buy a tactical fighter from the world market – so this perhaps is the best outcome for the country. We get a generation 3 fighter, and in the meantime maybe the JF-17s will start rolling out soon, and will be enough to serve the needs of the country to a point where we can stop reliance on American technology in the future.

  22. Adam Insaan says:
    October 17th, 2009 2:23 pm

    -and all these years I just thought it was CDA planning sector F16
    -I almost planned buying 4 marla there……

    But now I am enlightened, moderately ,
    thanks to Pak Army.

  23. MAK009x says:
    October 17th, 2009 6:27 pm

    well yea, we do. We need to keep up with the latest technologies, upgrading our jet fighters is a must. Although i do agree with you that Pakistan should focus on improving JF-17

  24. dr khalil says:
    October 17th, 2009 7:11 pm

    question is does the political government have a say in the matters of national security/defence? i think its pak armed forces who decide what they want and their say is final.

  25. Anwer says:
    October 17th, 2009 11:03 pm

    I think it would be useful if some one who is knowledgeable about the purchase of F16′s in the late eighties can enlighten us about the details of that fiasco. Thus it would be interesting to know about the use of Pressler amendment to stop their delivery once Afghan war was over, and subsequent efforts to get them released, and the monies that were paid for them, and what was actually returned or not returned and in what form. May be we can learn something from history.

  26. Daanish says:
    October 18th, 2009 2:15 am

    The answer is No to buy those expensive toys with spy devices custamized to spy on Pak skies.I suggest that Pakistan and Hindustan accept each other as respectable neighbours,make a no war pact and divert all money from buying western weapon of mass destruction to the good of their people in science,technology, and social uplifting.Let’s Pakistani … Read Moreand Hindustani like minded peace loving majority take a first step. Let’s make a forum here and now for paece in our part of the world,just remember remember taking a small step for peace is a bigger step than man’ step on moon :)

  27. Shiraz says:
    October 18th, 2009 3:50 am

    PAF ACM gave a political statement. It was wise to do so. Its quite well known why the new birds are being bought. But another wise decision was to cut down the numbers from almost 55 to 18. Rest of the money can be used for further development of JF-17, improvement and modernization of J-10 to culminate in form of FC-20. Both fighters are a reality and only a matter of time when they will start serving in frontline squadrons.

    In my view, the late 80s and early 90s Pressler sanctions imposed on Pakistan proved to be a blessing in disguise.

  28. Qasim says:
    October 18th, 2009 4:24 am

    I just don’t know… this issue has so many different dimensions to it. Yes, China’s a dependable ally, the US has a history of abandoning it’s “allies” as soon as it didn’t need them anymore. Education and welfare is very important, but that doesn’t belittle the very important need to maintain the ability to defend oneself.

    India’s one country that has a colorful past destabilizing all their neighbors, they annexed sikkim in the 70′s, regularly interfere with Bangladesh, have alot of beef to pick with the Chinese, regularly blow stuff up in Pakistan, widely believed to have supported the LTTE terrorists in Sri Lanka, block food supplies when land-locked Bhutan doesn’t comply to their whims.

    India recently positioned most of their MiG-29 fleet to Pakistan’s eastern border. A year ago they crossed the border with a pair of fully armed SU-30 MKIs to “bomb terrorist havens inside Pakistan”, if the US can do it, they felt they could too.

    Even if Pakistan focuses on the JF-17 project, the F-16 Block 52 is a much better aircraft, in pretty much every way. The F110 engine’s much more reliable than the Russian RD-93, it’s got better avionics, better payload, endurance, etc. Chinese technology is improving rapidly, but it still has a ways to go before competing with US stuff. Our airforce really needs these aircraft, rightnow their premiere front-line fighter’s around thirty years old(F-16A). India’s got some of Russia’s latest and best tech. I just hope we get these in time, before the US embargoes us again, for the third time.

  29. Ali Athar says:
    October 18th, 2009 9:18 am

    Pressler Amendment was passed in 1985 and was in fact written by Pakistanis themselves to counter an earlier amendment that restricted US military and economic aid to countries “that imported or exported un-safeguarded nuclear enrichment or reprocessing materials, equipment or technology.” I am actually quoting from Khalid Hasan, of Friday Times and Daily Times.

    That earlier amendment was called the 1977 Glenn-Symington Amendment, under which Pakistan’s assistance was blocked twice; first in September 1977 and then in April 1979 for nuclear-related activities. Then in 1981, the Reagan administration changed their laws in favor of Pakistan due to War in Afghanistan and 1985 saw the passing of Pressler Amendment, which “required the president to certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device and that US aid would greatly cut the risk of its getting one.” This of course was done for 4 years despite all evidences pointing to the contrary.

    Under these terms, Pakistan got aid worth $4bn and 40 F-16s. Later, in 1989, Bush the senior denied granting further waivers to Pakistan and hence the sale of 77 additional F-16s was blocked. Pakistan was later reimbursed the money (Khalid Hasan claims so) in 1995 under the Brown Amendment. I think only 28 of those 77 were made and were later used by USAF and US Marines. Some of these (14 I think) were later given to (some are still under process) Pakistan starting 2005.

    Of course in current era of increased US partnership, we can compare nuclear-related penalties of the 1980s to penalization related to assisting non-state actors and (still) nuclear-related activities in the future. Relationship with Uncle Sam can be a tricky business, or we have made it tricky ourselves. Your call!

  30. Riaz Haq says:
    October 18th, 2009 1:19 pm

    On the whole, this piece makes a lot of sense: Focus resources on human development and counter-insurgency rather than buying new, expensive fighter aircraft from US.

    But it also raises a lot of basic questions, such as:

    1. Does India remain an existential threat to Pakistan, in spite of Pak nukes and ballistic missiles?

    2. If Pakistan so chose, could it actually get or build the sophisticated and effective armed drones from US or anywhere else for COIN?

    3. If the money were not spent on this project and allocated to primary education instead, would it actually be spent on educating kids, or simply end in ghost schools lining the pockets of corrupt politicians and officials?

    4. Can Pakistan learn more about the latest and highly sophisticated technology on US F-16s, and use it to significantly improve JF-17 aircraft along with the Chinese?

    In my view, it’s not such a simple call, based on our history and experience. But I do think we need to carefully balance and calibrate our response to these various threats and needs that stare us in the face.

  31. AHR says:
    October 18th, 2009 5:57 pm

    The current bombings in Pakistan are definitely a cause for concern. It is unfortunate that after a successful military operation in Swat and surrounding areas, these shameful militants still take pride in the loss of human lives. Then again, it is difficult to expect them to respect the value of life once they become suicidal and so keen on killing others. The Kerry-Lugar Bill is another operation that has exposed the lack of respect journalists have for others as well. From fake stories, to conspiracies and downright lies, Pakistan’s media has seen and done it all. The legal battle ensuing from the lies has only proved the malice and bad intentions with which journalists like Ahmed Quraishi pen their writings

  32. Hassan Sultan says:
    October 19th, 2009 2:51 am

    We should not view this deal in context to battle for waziristan.That is different kind of a battle. A lot of people are analyzing it in the context of war against the insurgents.

    We should not forget that we are bordered by 2 very hostile nations.India which is always on our tail no matter what and now Afghanistan which was mainly because of our own misdoings.

    We need to spend money on such toys to keep them at their place. Although one thing i am still not sure about is whether F-16s we are buying would match up to what India has in purely technical sense.

  33. October 19th, 2009 3:53 am


    As we all know US military hardware is totally useless in a war situation. The software is fitted with a remote disabling facility, which can be turned off making the equipment un-usable.

    These are only good for airshows and to make a few people wealthy through backhanders. Secondly in every previous war US has imposed embargoes on Pakistan halting spare parts, making operatins difficult.

    If Pakistan wants defence capability it has to produce it self or rely trusted sources – China

  34. Adil says:
    October 19th, 2009 11:16 am

    Very valid point raised here. Pakistan should stop depending on an unreliable ally US and focus more on cooperation with China.

    US technology is more expensive and is not transfered to Pakistan so we will have to depend on US again in the future for spare parts for these F-16s. On the other, Chinese technology (specially JF-17) is being transfered to Pakistan.

  35. Aziz says:
    October 19th, 2009 1:36 pm

    F-16 is currently a superior aircraft to JF-17. There is no comparison because they both are from a different class. JF-17 should be compared to India’s LCA or Taiwan’s IDF. The only plus of JK-17 to F-16 is that it is fully integrated to the SD-10 MRRAM. Pakistan does not have this technology and unless PAF acquires it from US, JF-17 will only be an aircraft with this capability. In all other terms, F-16 can beat JF-17 anytime.

    If we want to secure greater airpower against our neighbors, we NEED these planes with or without technology transfer. That said, we can argue for eternity why we need to establish greater airpower against our neighbors. I am not going to get into that argument now. The reason I posted this comment was to correct the conception that JF-17 are same or close to F-16s. No they are not and I don’t think they can ever come close.

  36. Farrukh says:
    October 19th, 2009 2:43 pm

    Nice write up. Let me confess that we as nation are corrupt, dishonest, cheaters, inefficient etc. Countries like saudia prefer to give aid through UN rather than through so called corrupt mafia elite ruling the poor country. The country which is suffering from load shedding just because we are not paying dues to IPPs just to serve own interests (rental power projects) resulting into closure of industries, jobless people, social problems etc. The country which is being run on IMF money and dual taxation from middle class and poor salarized persons. Such nation tend to have corrupt rulers who can only contribute towards more corruption and lawlessness. For such countries kerry lugar type bills are drafted and weapons are offered for destruction. Enjoy till the aid ends and rulers have more assets abroad.

  37. shumayel says:
    October 21st, 2009 6:51 am

    the pakistan armed forced development program (AFDP) debars paf to acquire a dual-jet aircraft until 2019. which means paf is ONLY looking for single jet aircrafts. the main reason behind it is pafs bad experience with chinese A5′s. dual engine aircrafts are more expensive and require double the maintenance and costs. paf for this reason will not acquire rafale or j11s. paf did want to acquire the jas39 but swedish gov has declined to provide paf with combat weaponry. this leave paf with jf17s

    i believe paf should rely more on the chinese equipment now which is now considered to be at par with western standards. with the new jxx coming by 2015, paf can really get itself going. this is not to say that F16s are a bad machine. the F16s are great jets but the matter of F16s is more political than anything else. anything that usa provides to paf is given under strict conditons. infact if you were to know the conditions, ud say no to f16s.

    the conditions that come with the new f16s debar paf to use F16s without explicit permissions of USA (thats true !!!). moreover, these f16s cannot be used anywhere except missions granted by the usa. they cannot be used in another country with heavy air defence (read india). these f16s are not capable to carry nuclear weapons. the most disturbing of these conditions is that an F16 can be REMOTELY SHUTDOWN by simply sending it a message thereby making it unusable.

    basically these f16s are only provided to pakistan for war on terror missions. paf is not allowed to use them against india. the same goes for cobra gunships and other equipment. its true that in war everything is fair but the problem lies in usa being able to remotely shutdown this weaponry incase pakistan uses these in wars. what is the price we are paying for this junk then ? 80 million $ per aircraft (including munition) !!!.

    on top of this, usa can use it leverage and extortion on pakistan as it has been doing in past when it give weaponry to pakistan. paf wanted to go for mirage 2000s but usa agreed to provide paf with f16s thereby utilizing its funds and keeping it in check. do not think that usa is doing pakistan a favor with this weaponry. this weaponry is all part of a game plan. mashAllah PAF has got to know this plan and it declined to take more than 18 f16s.

    it is for this reason that pakistan should rely on jf17s, j10s and jxxs. infact j10s are better war machines. J10bs that paf will get in 2015 will have advanced avionics, thrust vectoring, aesa radar, huge thrust, making it true 4.5 gen fighter comparable to eurofighter only.

    pakistan should totally head towards declining the usa weaponry and instead rely on chinese, french, italian, swedish (if possible) stuff. this is must now for pakistan to reign in usa and india

    a very potent war machine with a psychological edge as its first weapon, but what a shame how USA arm twists and blackmails Pakistan over these. USA is a sham and a shame for Pakistan.

  38. imran Khan says:
    October 21st, 2009 5:56 pm

    For those who think that a generation gap between fighters is insurmountable, I would like to present a letter to editor of Dawn of an eye witness account of a dog fight between AN F-86 “Korean vintage” and TWO Mig-21s “Vietnam vintage over Dacca.

    “I FOUND it amusing when I heard a senior Indian Air Force officer say on TV that the PAF was behaving in an erratic manner because they did not have any answer to the Indian Air Force’s superiority in numbers. I may have fallen for this hype had I not been an eye-witness to one of the dogfights involving IAF and PAF on the last occasion these two adversaries clashed.

    It was the morning of December 4, 1971, at about 0730 hours, when I noticed two Indian Mig-21 fighters circling over our roof in the old part of Dacca, not far from the banks of the river Buriganga. Within a minute I saw a lone PAF Sabre F-86 coming towards them from the cantonment area.

    One could easily see that the Mig-21 was much faster than the Sabre and in a moment it was behind the Sabre and fired a burst that missed. The Sabre immediately started climbing towards the morning sun at an angle of 70 degrees. The Mig-21 tried to do the same but because of its faster speed it came to the wrong angle and the Indian pilot may have found himself momentarily blinded, just as we were while watching the manoeuvres from the ground.

    In a flash the Sabre was now behind the Mig-21 and began strafing it. The Mig-21 burst into flames, stunning us with some vivid pyrotechnics, as it were, which so closely resembled a scene from a Hollywood war movie. The Sabre then turned and fired at the second Mig-21, which was trying to leave the scene, and at once scored another hit, and this Mig-21 could be seen hurtling down, followed by multiple loud explosions.

    I remember my father paying someone for a part of the fallen plane which, in fact, was brought to us in the afternoon. I also remember how we had to quietly bury this part in our backyard when we saw Indian forces entering Dacca on December 17, 1971.

    The scene I have just described took place 37 years ago but has remained etched in my memory ever since. I salute that unknown Pakistani pilot who shot down two Mig-21s in a matter of minutes right before my eyes.

    I could never know whether the PAF pilot survived the war or was taken to India as a POW. When I finally came over to Karachi through the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1975, the subject was not a popular one and nobody wanted to be reminded of the time when Dhaka was a part of Pakistan.

    The past had, indeed, become another country. From what I had personally witnessed of the PAF’s performance and capability while in possession of just a handful of obsolete aircraft in 1971, I can safely say that the PAF today, with its present squadrons of F-16s and Mirages, will be more than a match for the IAF. The Indian Air Force will rue the day if they ever dared to go for the so-called ‘surgical strikes’ within the present borders of Pakistan.

    Saudi Arabia

  39. Sridhar says:
    October 21st, 2009 8:21 pm

    Interesting story about the dogfight over Dhaka. However, it is factually incorrect. I looked up the best source for aircraft attritions. It is available online for anybody to look up

    The records show that there were no Mig-21s shot down on the 4th of Dec anywhere in either the Eastern or Western fronts, and in fact no Mig-21s shot down over Dhaka or anywhere in the Eastern sector during the entire course of the war. I suspect (though am not sure) that no Mig-21 squadrons were employed in the Eastern sector due to the asymmetry of the air forces strengths on the two sides and the complete decimation of the PAF in the East within the first four of days of the start of the air war, ending the air war in that sector. Perhaps Mr. Zahid Islam witnessed a couple of Hawker Hunter aircraft of the IAF in the dogfight with the F86 Sabre, and he mistook the Hunters for Mig-21s.

    I don’t have a comment on the main hypothesis of the writer (which seems to be that the skill of the PAF pilots is so much higher than that of the IAF pilots that the quality of aircraft does not matter). However, I did want to point out that the evidence he presented in support of this thesis is simply not factual.

  40. AHR says:
    October 22nd, 2009 3:21 am

    Many in Pakistan fail to understand the value of their vote. Agreed we go to the polling stations whenever we are lucky enough to have elections, but having an ink mark on our thumb does not mark the end of our civic duty. When we come out in numbers, those politicians that take Pakistanis for granted are shaken to the core. Those law enforcement agencies carry out their duty with justice. Not only the government, but the army also realizes that it becomes powerless when it is dealing with the nation as one. If we, the people, are able to wield such influence over these powerful institutions by coming together as one unit, lord save the militants if we truly unite as Pakistan.

  41. Imran Khan says:
    October 23rd, 2009 8:08 am

    Since I put the story in the letter to Dawn on this blog, I felt that I should make sure that the story was correct. On doing some further research it turns out that there were three Mig 21 squadron in East Pakistan at the time. One of the plane shot was Mig-21 and the other very similar looking SU-7. Both these planes are technically speaking two generations removed from F-86. This is by no means the only such encounter. On the West Pakistan side in 1971 another F-86 shot down a Mig-21 and the pilot was taken POW. Another F-6, one generation removed from Mig-21, shot down another Mig 21. If you look at the examples of other encounters there are plenty of such cases.

    For anecdotal purposes only I am including a response from Air Officer Commanding EPAF, then Air Commodore Inam H. Khan regarding this encounter. He said
    “..Sqn Ldr Afzaal did engage and shot a MG 21 over Dacca city. I was at the Killer Control at that time, when I saw him positioning behind a Su- 7 which was coming into attack the only visible ac from the air and the only one destroyed on the ground was PIA’s one of the two Twin Otters. There being no tall suitable tree cover available. Other one had some excuse of a cover, survived and employed for repatriation of pilots. Any way this Su-7 positioned nicely at normal 360 knots or less came, flew past close to killer control, gave a solid longish cannon burst causing this Otter to surprisingly almost instantaneous evaporation. Naturally breathing heavily our fighter was getting into firing range when Su-7 immediately after firing, cut in his AB and zoomed away. As IAF DAI Air Commodore Grewal also told me at Calcutta, IAF air attacks till delivery of ordnance were made at normal practice range speeds of 360 to 420 knots…”

    So there you have it. He is actually appreciative of IAF pilots bravery.
    In conclusion I would refer you to Ezer Weizman’s (IDF-AF commander ) comment
    “The human factor will decide the fate of war, of all wars. Not the Mirage, nor any other plane, and not the screwdriver, or the wrench or radar or missiles or all the newest technology and electronic innovations. Men—and not just men of action, but men of thought. Men for whom the expression ‘By ruses shall ye make war’ is a philosophy of life, not just the object of lip service.”

  42. Sridhar says:
    October 23rd, 2009 1:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing the perspective of the Air Commodore. I have checked my sources. There were indeed Mig-21 squadrons in the Eastern sector. I was only speculating (and stated explicitly that I was not sure) that the aircraft type was not employed in the East. So thanks for the information (I have not been able to confirm how many squadrons were there, but will let you know if I learn more about it).

    On the Mig-21 supposed to have been shot down over Dhaka, I checked my sources again (including a Pakistani one) and stand by the claim that no Mig-21 was shot down over Dhaka on the 4th of December or at any time during the course of the war.

    There were a total of 7 Mig-21s lost during the course of the war, 2 in the East and 5 in the West. Of the two in the East, one was shot down by AA (anti-aircraft) fire, another was hit by AA, made it back to Indian territory and crashed close to the airbase as it ran out of fuel. Of the five in the West, one was lost in an accident while landing, another was lost to friendly fire over Indian territory. Of the three lost to enemy fire, only one was lost in air-to-air combat (to an F86 as you have stated) – the other two were lost to AA fire.

    On 4th Dec 1971, there were two Hunters that were shot down in air-to-air combat in the East, one at about 0800 hours by an F86 and another at about 1430 hours by another F86. There was no incident on the day where two aircraft were shot down at around the same time. In fact, these two Hunters were the only air-to-air combat losses on that day anywhere in the East. No Su-7 Fitter and certainly no Mig-21 was shot down that day.

    I think the respected Air Commodore is mistaken about the incident he claims. Also, there are typically lots of false claims made during war situations for reasons of morale and so forth. The data I am giving are the most reliable ones available, with rigorous verification from both sides.

    On the general point being made, there are lots of instances even in the India-Pakistan scenario where technically inferior aircraft shot down much more superior ones or where lone aircraft took on multiple adversaries. For instance, a subsonic Mystere shooting down a supersonic (Mach-2) F-104 Starfighter in 1965, or a lone Gnat taking on 6 Sabres and hitting two of them and forcing the other four to flee in 1971. There are examples in other theatres as well. These instances support the claim that skill and bravery are crucial factors in war. I just don’t think the data support the claim that skill and bravery levels are different on the two sides.

    In any case, this is a distraction from the main point of the article, which is that F-16s are not needed to battle the Taliban or for COIN operations in general.

  43. Sridhar says:
    October 23rd, 2009 2:00 pm

    I just read an article written by Air Marshal Inam H. Khan (who you have quoted in support of the Mig-21 kill claim) on your blog. I must regretfully state it is perhaps one of the most bigoted and racist pieces of writing I have read in recent times. His claims have zero credibility, at least as far as I am concerned, after reading his article filled with untruths and gross generalizations and stereotypes.

  44. Sridhar says:
    October 23rd, 2009 2:11 pm

    Small correction. Four Mig-21s were lost to enemy fire in the West, three to AA fire and one shot down by an F86 Sabre. Apologies for the error. The numbers I stated in the East are correct.

    Also, no Mig-21 was shot down by an F-6, either in the East or the West.

  45. Shahid Mahmood. says:
    April 3rd, 2010 1:15 pm

    The .P.A.F war plan for future war with India requires addition in numbers of A/Cs.As any possible war P.A.F according its war plan would have to impose hell on the floatila of so called Blue water Navy,it means sending 20-30 I.N frigates to seabed P.A.F have to send large numbers of A/Cs.TO get the objective it would have to sacifice of 30-40 A/Cs and Pilots.obviously $80 million worth of A/Cs would not be a sane to send them for this job ,JF.17+Mirage are ideal n A/Cs.

  46. October 16th, 2011 8:02 pm

    i think its really cool !

  47. October 16th, 2011 8:03 pm

    i agree, nice and informative post by the way!

    October 17th, 2011 10:53 am



Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)