Pakistan Air Force: A Symbol of Pride for Nation

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Pakistan has always believed in peaceful co-existence and cooperation with all neighbors for mutual progress and friendship. However, the instability of the region and Pakistan-specific aggressive designs of our Eastern neighbor are serious concerns for national security. With current capabilities, the Pakistani Armed Forces are fully capable to ensure the defense of the country against any aggression. Without embroiling into any arms race, Pakistan Air Force has always believed in its modernization along with maintenance of the highest standards of values, leadership, and training to meet any challenge.

the contemporary geostrategic environment is in a state of flux due to the intervention of geo-politics and geo-economics mainly enabled by transforming global order and growing regional interdependencies. The south Asian region, where two nuclear powers have antagonist postures with a history of conflicts and confrontation, has been particularly affected by these changes. Recent developments in Afghanistan and Asia Pacific region along with growing Indian military-strategic partnerships with various countries have further accentuated the instability of the region. The emerging regional environment also leverages our adversary an opportunity to further its regional ambitions to become a net security provider and regional power. Under such an impression, the Indian unilateral desire for an arms race coupled with enormous military spending, especially in non-contact warfare, Ballistic Missile Defence, Hypersonic technology, Artificial Intelligence, Drones, and the acquisition of modern jets is a recipe for a critical security dilemma in the region. Post Pulwama embarrassment suffered during Operation Swift Retort has hastened Indian military acquisitions including Rafael and S-400 systems.

Pakistan has always believed in peaceful co-existence and cooperation with all neighbors for mutual progress and friendship. However, the instability of the region and Pakistan-specific aggressive designs of our Eastern neighbor are serious concerns for national security. With current capabilities, the Pakistani Armed Forces are fully capable to ensure the defense of the country against any aggression. Without embroiling into any arms race, Pakistan Air Force has always believed in its modernization along with maintenance of the highest standards of values, leadership, and training to meet any challenge. Pakistan is also fully aware of the need for Air Defense of the country in the backdrop of Indian largescale military acquisitions, especially by Indian Air Force. Despite economic challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic, Govt. of Pakistan believed in the primacy of Air Power and decided to equip PDF with cutting-edge, modern, state-of-the-art capability in the shape of J-10C aircraft to counterbalance growing asymmetry and ensure air defense of Pakistan.

J-10C is a 4.5+ Generation, ultra-modern, Omni-role fighter aircraft enabled with long-range first-shot BVR capability which would offset any fighter capability possessed by our adversary. Equipped with the latest avionics such as modern AESA Radar, Integrated EW suite, Informationized fused sensor systems as well as the capability to carry a variety of modern weapons, the aircraft is capable to deny the enemy’s advantage in the domains of air, land, and sea. Owing to its excellent performance in all fight regimes and altitudes, matchless maneuverability, and advanced integrated Electronic Warfare Suite; the aircraft can take on any contemporary aerial and ground threats with a high degree of assurance.

Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, after assuming command on 21 March, 2021embarked on the journey of modernizing PAF at a fast pace. Visualizing smart acquisitions as a way forward, he immediately sought the approval of the Former Govt of Pakistan and the Prime Minister for the acquisition of a 4.5+ generation fighter aircraft with state-of-the-art avionics and weapons. The J-10C aircraft owing to its exclusive capabilities was selected to act as a front-line fighter for Pakistan Air Force and thus PAF became the first air force to induct this modern fighter into its fleet after PLAAF. Govt. of Pakistan, realizing the emerging geo-strategic environment, ensured the availability of this capability through the tremendous cooperation of our tested and all-time friend, China. Owing to vigorous engagement by the leadership of PAF, a strategic framework was signed on 21 April 2021 which was followed by an immediate visit of the PAF team to China. The contract for the acquisition of the J-10C weapon system was signed with Chinese OEM o n25 June 2021 which included the provision of the jets and associated weaponry along with initial training of the air and ground crew. Owning visionary leadership, an energetic team, immense cooperation, coordination, and collaboration from china, the availability of the aircraft was made possible within a record time of 08 months which is truly unprecedented. The immense and earnest support of the Chinese Govt played a pivotal role in the timely production of aircraft and training of PAF air & ground crew. No doubt that the contract and subsequent delivery of aircraft in March 2022 could not have been achieved without the support and patronage of the Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, H.E Mr. Imran Khan. The acquisition of J-10C aircraft is a strategic milestone for PAF and will go a long way in enhancing PAF’s capability to ensure the impregnable defense of the Arial frontiers of Pakistan.

Broadly speaking, the PAF has always maintained preparedness and operational readiness during all the conflicts, be it full fledge wars like 1965 and 1971 or misadventures of small scale by the enemies of peace in the region like the Kargil conflict in 1999, Pak-India border escalation in 2001, and 2008, Operation Zarb-E-Azb and Pakistan-India conflict after Pulwama incident in February 2019. The recent operation by the PAF, Operation Swift Retort, against Indian nefarious designs to establish new standards in the region also proved the PAF’s superiority over the IAF.

In response to India’s so-called Balakot airstrike, the PAF launched a counter strike which was codenamed as “Operation Swift Retort”. The purpose was essential to demonstrate Pakistan’s resolve and capability. Open spaces in a military garrison near the Line of Control were selected for the bombing to avoid any human casualties. The PAF warplanes crossed the LOC and bombed the selected areas. In retaliation, IAF fighter jets tried to chase the PAF warplanes and as a result, the two IAF aircraft, MiG-21, and SU-30 were shot down by the PAF fighter jets. The MiG-21 pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured alive but later returned to India as a gesture of goodwill.

In short, the PAF has been and is still a dignified and credible weapon of Pakistan’s aerial defense. It has always been leading from the front, throughout history, in times of war as well as peace.  The nation is proud of the PAF which hasn’t only succeeded to defend Pakistan’s airspace but has also risen to be among the most respected air forces in the world. Thus, it is rightly stated that “Sleep tight because the PAF is awake”.

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