Pakistan Air Force (PAF) (Urdu: پاک فضائیہ, Pak Fiza'ya) is the air arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces and is primarily tasked with the aerial defence of Pakistan with a secondary role to provide air support to the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Navy. The PAF also has a tertiary role to provide strategic air transport and logistics capability to Pakistan. The PAF employs 65,000 full-time personnel (including approximately 3,000 pilots) and operates approximately 400 combat aircraft alongside various transport and training aircraft.


The primary mission statement of the PAF was given by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, during his address to the passing out cadets of the Pakistan Air Force Academy Risalpur on 13 April, 1948, and 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 its own Air Force as quickly as possible, it must be an efficient Air Force, second to none.[1]


But the present scenario has required and enabled the Force to come up with an improved and up-to-date Mission Statement: "To provide, in synergy with other Armed Forces, an efficient, assured and cost-effective aerial defense of Pakistan."


Main article: History of the Pakistan Air Force

 1947–1951: The Formative Years


PAF Hawker Sea Fury two-seat trainer

The Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) was established on 14 August 1947 with the independence of Pakistan from British India. The RPAF began with 2,332 personnel, a fleet of 24 Tempest II fighter-bombers, 16 Hawker Typhoon fighters (also called Tempest I), two H.P.57 Halifax bombers, 2 Auster aircraft, twelve North American Harvard trainers and ten de Havilland Tiger Moth biplanes. It also got eight C-47 Dakota cargo planes which it used to transport supplies to soldiers fighting in the 1947 War in Kashmir against India. However, it never received all the planes it was alloted at the time of independence of South Asia.[2] It started with 7 operational airbases scattered all over the provinces. The prefix Royal was removed when Pakistan gained the status of Republic on 23 March 1956. It has since been called Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Operating these inherited aircraft was far from ideal 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 acquired better aircraft such as the Hawker Sea Fury fighter-bomber and the Bristol Freighter. 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.

1951–1961: PAF enters the Jet Age


The F-86 Sabre was in PAF service from 1955 to 1980.


Flying Officer Waleed Ehsanul Karim poses in front of his F-86.

Although the Pakistan Air Force had little funds to use and markets to choose from, it entered the jet age quite early. Initially it had planned to acquire US-built F-94Cs, F-86s, or F-84s and produce its order in Pakistan. However, lack of funds and strong British pressure persuaded 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 attrition and maintenance problems. In 1957 the Pakistan Air Force received 100 American-built F-86 Sabres under the U.S. aid program. Squadron after squadron in the PAF retired its Hawker Furys 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-in-chief.

 1959: PAF Draws 'First Blood'

On 10 April 1959, on the occasion of the Islamic Eid ul-Fitr festival holiday in Pakistan, an Indian Air Force (IAF) English Electric Canberra B(I)58 intruded into Pakistani airspace on a photo reconnaissance mission. Two PAF F-86F Sabres from No. 15 Squadron on Air Defence Alert (ADA) were scrambled from Peshawar Air Base to intercept the IAF intruder. The Sabre pilots were Flt. Lt. M. N. Butt (leader) and Flt. Lt. M. Yunus (wingman) whereas Pilot Officer Rab Nawaz was the on-duty Air Defence Controller for this mission. Nawaz successfully vectored both Sabres to the location of the high-flying Canberra. Butt attempted to bring down the Canberra by firing his Sabre's machine guns but the Canberra was flying at an altitude of more than 50,000 feet - beyond the operational ceiling of the F-86F. When Yunus took over from his leader, the Canberra suddenly lost height while executing a turn over Rawalpindi. Yunus grabbed this opportunity and fired a burst from his 12.7 mm guns that struck the Canberra at an altitude of 47,500 feet and brought it down over Rawat, near Rawalpindi. Thus, PAF drew 'first blood' against the IAF. '55-5005' was the serial number of the F-86F Sabre that was flown by Flt. Lt. Yunus that day. Both the occupants of the IAF Canberra, namely Sqn. Ldr. J.C. Sen Gupta (pilot) and Flt. Lt. S.N. Rampal (navigator) from the IAF's No. 106 Sqn., ejected and were taken prisoner by Pakistani authorities and were subsequently released after remaining in detention for some time.[3]

1965 India-Pakistan Rann of Kutch Border Skirmish

In June 1965, prior to the outbreak of the 1965 India-Pakistan War, India and Pakistan had a border skirmish in the Rann of Kutch region near the south-eastern coastline of Pakistan. The PAF was tasked with providing point-defence to the Rann of Kutch region to prevent the Indian Air Force (IAF) from intruding into Pakistani airspace and attacking Pakistan Army positions. On 24 June 1965, an IAF Ouragan fighter (Serial No. IC 698), flown by Flt. Lt. Rana Lal Chand Sikka of No. 51 Auxiliary Squadron from the IAF's Jamnagar Air Station intruded into Pakistani airspace. A PAF F-104A Starfighter from No. 9 Squadron intercepted the IAF fighter near Badin in Sindh, Pakistan. Just as the PAF pilot locked on to the Indian fighter and was about to release his AIM-9B Sidewinder Air-to-Air Missile (AAM), much to the surprise and amusement of the PAF pilot, the Indian pilot lowered his aircraft's landing gear (an internationally-recognized sign of aerial surrender). The IAF pilot landed at an open field near Jangshahi village near Badin. The IAF pilot was taken prisoner and released on 14 August 1965 - as a goodwill gesture on the 18th Anniversary of Pakistan's Independence Day - minus the IAF Ouragan fighter, which was retained by the PAF as a trophy and flown by a PAF pilot to an airbase in Karachi. (NOTE: This event is not to be confused with the surrender of an IAF Gnat on 4 September 1965 during the 1965 India-Pakistan War, which is on display at the PAF Museaum Karachi)[4][5]

 1965 India-Pakistan War

Main article: Indo-Pakistani War of 1965


PAF B-57 bombers lined up at an airbase.


Muhammad Mahmood Alam downed 5 Indian aircraft in less than a minute.[6][7]

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 the PAF was out-numbered 5:1 against the Indian Air Force and, initially, both sides claimed to have downed around 100 aircraft of the opposition during the 23 day war. The PAF fleet at the time consisted of 12 F-104 Starfighters, some 120 F-86 Sabres and around 20 B-57 Canberra bombers.[8] The PAF also claims to have had complete air superiority over the battle area from the second day of operations [9] .[10] Close air support to the Pakistan Army was unexpectedly effective and the PAF is widely considered to have single-handedly neutralised the large difference in military strength of India and Pakistan.[9]

Many publications have credited the PAF's successes to U.S. equipment, claiming it to be superior to the aircraft operated by the InAF and giving the PAF a "qualitative advantage". However this was not the case as the InAF's MiG-21, Hawker Hunter and Folland Gnat aircraft had better performance than the PAF's F-86 fighters.[11] According to Air Cdre (retired) Sajad Haider, the F-86 Sabre was inferior in both power and speed to the InAF's Hawker Hunter.[12] The PAF's advantage during the conflict was in superior tactics, as well as pilot training and morale.[11]

According to Air Commodore (retired) Sajjad Haider who flew with No. 19 squadron, the F-104 Starfighter did not deserve its reputation as "the pride of the PAF" because it "was unsuited to the tactical environment of the region. It was a high-level interceptor designed to neutralise Soviet strategic bombers in altitudes above 40,000 feet].[13] The F-86F performed reasonably well over IAF's Hawker Hunters but had trouble in dealing with the Gnats, which earned the nickname Sabre Slayers.[14][15]

1967 Arab-Israeli 'Six-Day' War

Main article: Six-Day War

RJAF and IrAF were flying under a joint command. Flt. Lt. S. Azam became the only pilot from the Arab side to have shot down 3 IDF/IAF aircraft within 72 hours and also the only pilot to have shot down 3 different aircraft types of the IDF/IAF. He was, subsequently, decorated by Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.[16]

 1971 India-Pakistan War

Main articles: Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971


A PAF Shenyang F-6, F-104 Starfighter and Dassault Mirage III flying in formation. The Mirage is being flown by (retired) Air Cdre Murad Khan.

In December 1971, India and Pakistan went to war over erstwhile East Pakistan. 1971 war saw pakistan losing contrl over Bangladesh (then known as East pakistan). At the start of the war the PAF was outnumbered 4:1 in West Pakistan and 10:1 in East Pakistan, the PAF inventory contained around 270 combat aircraft [17] while the InAF had over 1,200. The PAF also faced modern air defence systems, such as the S-75 (SA-2 Guideline) surface-to-air missile, defending Indian bases. Serviceability of the PAF's American fighters and bombers, the F-86, F-104 and B-57, was severely affected by a U.S. arms embargo imposed after the 1965 Indo-Pak War. This meant that the PAF was forced to rely on five squadrons of Shenyang F-6 [17] (around 80 aircraft) for air defence and 24 Dassault Mirage III [17] for offensive strikes.[18]

On November 22, 10 days before the start of a full-scale hostilities, four PAF F-86 Sabres attacked Indian and Mukti Bahini positions near the Indian-Bangladeshi border in the Battle of Garibpur, and hostilities commenced. In what became the first ever dogfight over Bangladeshi skies, three of the 4 PAF Sabres were shot down by IAF Gnats.[citation needed]

December 3 saw the formal declaration of war following preemptive strikes by the Pakistan Air Force against Indian Air Force installations in the west. The PAF targets were Indian bases in Srinagar, Ambala, Sirsa, Halwara and Jodhpur on the lines of Israeli Operation Focus. At the time it was reported that the InAF had anticipated the attack and it failed as no major losses were suffered.[19] However, statements made since then by then InAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal P. C. Lal, seem to contradict this to some extent.

ACM Lal writes that two major craters on the runway at InAF base Halwara were made by 3 of 8 bombs dropped by PAF B-57 Canberra bombers. At the InAF base Amritsar, an attack by four Mirage III fighters, which caused little damage, was followed up by several attacks which made 4 to 5 craters in the runway. Although the runway was repaired within an hour, the commander of the InAF's Western Air Command decided that a retaliatory attack against Pakistani bases would not be launched from Amritsar as originally planned. Some hours after the attack by the PAF's Mirage III fighters, only one lane of the runway was able to launch fighters. B-57 bombers then made another attack on the base. The InAF's Pathankot base required repairs after being bombed by PAF Mirage III fighters, InAF fighter patrols had to be launched from another base while repairs were under way. Attacks on InAF base Sirsa by PAF B-57 bombers disabled the runway for the rest of that night. At InAF base Jaisalmer, an underground power line was damaged resulting in loss of telephone communications. The runway at InAF base Uttarlai was bombed three times, which forced InAF pilots to use taxiways for taking off and landing for 6 days. The InAF's Bhuj airbase was bombed "fairly accurately" according to ACM Lal and there were difficulties in gathering enough manpower to repair it.[20]

After the IAF retaliated, the PAF carried out more defensive sorties.[21]

As the war progressed, the Indian Air Force continued to battle the PAF over conflict zones[22], but the number of sorties flown by the PAF gradually decreased day-by-day.[23] The lack of coordination between Pakistan's air force and army[24] was evident during the Battle of Longewala when the PAF was unable to come to aid the ground forces despite repeated requests by the Pakistan Army.[25] The PAF did not intervene during the Indian Navy's raid on Karachi, a Pakistani naval port city. Some sources state that a commander decided it was the task of the Pakistan Navy alone to defend Karachi.[26]

At the end of the war, the Indian Air Force claimed it had shot down 94 PAF aircraft, including 54 F-86 Sabres.[27] According to some sources, the overall attrition rate (losses per 100 sorties) was 0.48 for the IAF and 1.42 for the PAF,[28] the PAF flying 2914 combat sorties while the IAF flew 7,346 combat sorties[29][30] during the conflict.[31] According to a PAF officer, 61.5% of PAF's sorties were defensive while 65.5% of IAF's sorties were offensive.[23]

1973 Arab-Israeli 'Yom Kippur' War

Main article: Yom Kippur War

During the war 16 PAF pilots volunteered to go to the Middle East in order to support Egypt and Syria but by the time they arrived, Egypt had already been pushed into a ceasefire. Syria remained in a state of war against Israel.

On 23 October 1973, PAF pilot Flt. Lt. M. Hatif on deputation to Egyptian Air Force (EAF) was flying a EAF MiG-21 in a defensive combat air patrol (CAP) over Egypt when he was vectored towards an intruding Israeli Air Force (IDF/AF) F-4 Phantom. In the ensuing dogfight, Flt. Lt. M. Hatif shot down the Israeli Phantom.[32]

Eight (8) PAF pilots started flying out of Syrian Airbases; they formed the A-flight of 67 Squadron at Dumayr Airbase. The Pakistani pilots flew Syrian MiG-21 aircraft conducting CAP missions for the Syrians.

On 26 April 1974, PAF pilot Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi on deputation to No. 67 Squadron, Syrian Air Force (SAF) was flying a SAF MiG-21FL Fishbed (Serial No. 1863) out of Dumayr Air Base, Syria in a two-ship formation with a fellow PAF pilot and the Flight Leader, Sqn. Ldr. Arif Manzoor. The Ground Controller, also a PAF officer, Sqn. Ldr. Salim Metla, vectored the two PAF pilots to a formation of 2 Israeli Air Force Mirage IIICJs and 2 F-4 Phantoms that had intruded into Syrian airspace over the Golan Heights. In the engagement that took place at 1532 hours, Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi shot down an Israeli Mirage IIICJ using his MiG-21's R(K)-13 Air-to-Air Missile. The pilot of the downed Israeli Mirage was Capt. M. Lutz of No. 5 Air Wing, who ejected. The remaining Israeli fighters aborted the mission. The 2 IAF Mirage IIICJs were from Hatzor AFB and the 2 IAF F-4 Phantoms were from No. 1 Air Wing, Ramat David AFB, Israel.[33][34]

Flt. Lt. A. Sattar Alvi became the first Pakistani pilot, during the Yom Kippur War, to shoot down an Israeli Mirage in air combat.He was honored by the Syrian government.[35] Other aerial encounters involved Israeli F-4 Phantoms; Pakistan Air Force did not lose a single pilot or aircraft during this war.

 1979–1988 Soviet-Afghan War

Main articles: Soviet war in Afghanistan and 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 neighbouring 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 was 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 (one Su-22, one probable Su-22, and one An-26) were shot down by two pilots from No. 9 Squadron. Pilots of No. 14 Squadron destroyed the remaining five intruders (two Su-22s, two MiG-23s, and one Su-25). Most of these kills were by the AIM-9 Sidewinder, but at least one (a Su-22) was destroyed by cannon fire. Flight Lieutenant Khalid Mahmood is credited with three of these kills. One F-16 was lost in these battles during an encounter between two F-16s and six Afghan Air Force aircraft on 29 April 1987, stated by the PAF to have been an "own-goal" because it was hit by an AIM-9 Sidewinder fired from the other F-16. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Shahid Sikandar Khan, ejected safely.[36]

The PAF is believed to have evaluated the Dassault Mirage 2000 in early 1981 and was planning to evaluate the F-16 afterwards.[37]

 1990–2001: The Lost Decade

Desperate for a new high-tech combat aircraft, between late 1990 and 1993 the PAF evaluated the European Panavia Tornado MRCA (multi-role combat aircraft) and rejected it. The Mirage 2000E and an offer from Poland for the supply of MiG-29 and Su-27 were also considered but nothing materialised. In 1992 the PAF again looked at the Mirage 2000, reviving a proposal from the early 1980s to procure around 20-40 aircraft, but again a sale did not occur because France did not want to sell a fully-capable version due to political reasons. In August 1994 the PAF was offered the Saab JAS-39 Gripen by Sweden, but again the sale did not occur because 20% of the Gripen's components were from the U.S. and Pakistan was still under U.S. sanctions.[38]

In mid-1992 Pakistan was close to signing a contract for the supply of 40 Dassault Mirage 2000, equipped with Thomson-CSF RDM/7 radars, from France.[39]

In mid-1994 it was reported that the Russian manufacturers Sukhoi and Mikoyan were offering the Su-27 and MiG-29.[40] But Pakistan was later reported to be negotiating for supply of the Dassault Mirage 2000-5.[41] French and Russian teams visited Pakistan on 27 November 1994 and it was speculated that interest in the Russian aircraft was to pressure France into reducing the price of the Mirage 2000. Stated requirement was for up to 40 aircraft.[42]

 1999 India-Pakistan Kargil Conflict

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) did not see active combat during the low-intensity Kargil Conflict between India and Pakistan during the summer of 1999 but remained on high air defence alert (ADA) and performed F-16 and F-7MP combat air patrols (CAPs) near the eastern border with India. The PAF closely monitored and tracked the IAF's movements near the Line of Control in Kashmir as well as the India-Pakistan international border. Occasionally, PAF F-16s and IAF Mirage 2000s locked on to each other across the Line of Control but did not engage.[43]

The IAF was involved in strike operations on the Line of Control and, on 37 occasions, intruded into Pakistani airspace at very low altitude, for only a few seconds and up to a few miles, thus, not giving the PAF an opportunity to shoot down any of their aircraft. Most of these intrusions were considered to be 'technical violations' relating to the layout of the Line of Control and not considered to be deliberate.[43]

 2001–Present: Counter Terrorism Operations


A pair of JF-17 Thunder at the 2007 National Parade

In light of Pakistan's significant contribution to the War on Terror[44][45], the United States and Western European countries, namely Germany and France, lifted their defense related sanctions on Pakistan; enabling the country to once again seek advanced Western military hardware. Since the lifting 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. However the urgent relief needed in Kashmir after the October 8 Earthquake forced the Pakistan Military to stall its modernization programme; so it could divert its resources for fuel and operations during the rescue effort.

The Bush administration on July 24, 2008 informed the US Congress it plans to shift nearly $230 million of $300 million in aid from counterterrorism programs to upgrading Pakistan's aging F-16s.[46] The Bush administration previously announced on June 27, 2008 it was proposing to sell Pakistan ITT Corporation's electronic warfare gear valued at up to $75 million to enhance Islamabad's existing F-16s.[47] Pakistan has asked about buying as many as 21 AN/ALQ-211(V)9 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite pods, or AIDEWS, and related equipment.[48] The proposed sale will ensure that the existing fleet is "compatible" with new F-16 Block 50/52 fighters being purchased by Islamabad. Electronic warfare targets such things as radars, communications links, computer networks and advanced sensors.

The modernisation stall would end in April 2006 when the Pakistani cabinet approved the PAF's proposals to procure new aircraft and systems from several sources, including modern combat aircraft from the U.S. and China. The AFFDP 2019 (Armed Forces Development Programme 2019) would oversee the modernisation of the Pakistan Air Force from 2006 to 2019.[49]

Between 2005 and 2008, 14 F-16A/B Block 15 OCU fighters were delivered to the PAF under renewed post-9/11 ties between the U.S. and Pakistan. These had originally been built for Pakistan under the Peace Gate III/IV contracts but were never delivered due to the U.S. arms embargo imposed in 1990.[50]

On 13 December 2008, the Government of Pakistan stated that two Indian Air Force aircraft were intercepted by the PAF kilometres within Pakistani airspace. This charge was denied by the Indian government.[51]

During talks with a delegation from the French Senate on Monday 28 September 2009, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stated that the PAF had used most of its stockpile of laser-guided munitions against militants in the Malakand and FATA regions and that replacements for such types of equipment were urgently required.[52]


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 six Deputy Chiefs of the Air Staff who control and administer the Administration, Operations, Engineering, Supply (logistics), Personnel, and Training divisions of the PAF respectively. Recently, the Air Headquarters (AHQ) has been moved from Chaklala to Islamabad. 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.



Northern Air Command (NAC) Peshawar


Central Air Command (CAC) Lahore


Southern Air Command (SAC) Faisal, Karachi


Air Defence Command (ADC) Chaklala, Rawalpindi


Air Force Strategic Command (AFSC) Islamabad


Main article: Air Bases of Pakistan Air Force

These are the bases from which the PAF planes operate during peace time. They have complete infrastructure of hardened shelters, control towers, workshops, ordnance depots etc. These are ten in number and are:


PAF Mushaf (Sargodha)


PAF Masroor (Karachi)


PAF Faisal (Karachi)


PAF Rafiqui (Shorkot)


PAF Peshawar (Peshawar)


PAF Samungli (Quetta)


PAF Mianwali (Mianwali)


PAF Minhas (Kamra)


PAF Chaklala (Rawalpindi)


PAF Risalpur (Risalpur)


Multan Airport (Multan)


[[PAF Base Kalabagh(Nathiagali) Abbottabad district


 Awards for valor


Rashid Minhas

Main article: Nishan-e-Haider

The Nishan-e-Haider (Urdu: نشان حیدر) (Order of Ali), is the highest military award given by Pakistan. Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas (1951–August 20, 1971) is the only officer of the PAF to be awarded the Nishan-e-Haider for sacrificing his life to save a plane hijacking. Others awarded of the PAF include:


Squadron Leader Muhammad Mahmood Alam also known as M. M. Alam Who is credited in Pakistan with downing nine Indian fighters six of them are Hunters of the Indian Air Force in air-to-air combats, 5 of them in less than a minute.[6]


Squadron Leader Sarfraz Rafiqui who did not leave the battle, and even with his jammed guns continued to chase an Indian Air Force pilot until finally being shot down by a Hunter aircraft, flown by the IAF.[53]

 List of commanders

 All Chiefs of Air Staff

Main article: Chief of Air Staff (Pakistan)

  1. Air Vice Marshal Allan Perry-Keene (August 15, 1947 – February 17, 1949)

  2. Air Vice Marshal Richard Atcherley (February 18, 1949 – May 6, 1951)

  3. Air Vice Marshal Leslie William Cannon (May 7, 1951 – June 19, 1955)

  4. Air Vice Marshal Arthur McDonald (June 20, 1955 – July 22, 1957)

  5. Air Marshal Asghar Khan (July 23, 1957 – July 22, 1965)

  6. Air Marshal Nur Khan (July 23, 1965 – August 31, 1969)

  7. Air Marshal Abdul Rahim Khan (September 1, 1969 – March 2, 1972)

  8. Air Marshal Zafar Chaudhry (March 3, 1972 – April 15, 1974)

  9. Air Chief Marshal Zulfiqar Ali Khan (April 16, 1974 – July 22, 1978)

  10. Air Chief Marshal Anwar Shamim (July 23, 1978 – March 5, 1985)

  11. Air Chief Marshal Jamal A. Khan (March 6, 1985 – March 8, 1988)

  12. Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah (March 9, 1988 – March 9, 1991)

  13. Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze Khan (March 9, 1991 – November 8, 1994)

  14. Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak (November 8, 1994 – November 7, 1997)

  15. Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi (November 7, 1997 – November 20, 2000)

  16. Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir (November 20, 2000 – February 20, 2003)

  17. Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat (March 18, 2003 – March 18, 2006)

  18. Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed (March 18, 2006 – March 18, 2009)

  19. Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman (March 19, 2009 – present)

 Air Headquarters


Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman — Chief of Air Staff (CAS)


Air Marshal Hifazat Ullah Khan — Vice Chief of Air Staff (VCAS)


Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Personnel)


Air Marshal Waseem-ud-Din — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Administration)


Air Marshal Mohammad Hassan — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations)


Air Vice Marshal Syed Athar Hussain Bukhari — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Training)


Air Vice Marshal Asim Suleiman — DG Air Intelligence (DG AI)


Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Jamshed Khan — DG C4I


Air Vice Marshal Syed Azhar Hasan Bokhari — DG Air Force Strategic Command (DG AFSC)


Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Arif — Chief Project Director JF-17 Thunder (CPD JF-17)


Air Vice Marshal Qasim Masood Khan — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Engineering)


Air Vice Marshal Syed Razi Nawab — Inspector General Air Force (IGAF)


Air Vice Marshal Syed Hassan Raza — Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Support)



Air Vice Marshal Tubrez Asif — Commandant, PAF Air War College, Karachi


Air Vice Marshal Aftab Hussain — Air Officer Commanding, Air Defence Command (ADC), Chaklala


Air Vice Marshal Sohail Gul Khan — Air Officer Commanding, Northern Air Command (NAC), Peshawar


Air Vice Marshal Hafeez Ullah — Air Officer Commanding, Pakistan Air Force Academy, Risalpur


Air Vice Marshal Arshad Quddus — Air Officer Commanding, Southern Air Command (SAC), Karachi


Air Vice Marshal Sohail Aman — Air Officer Commanding, Central Air Command (CAC), Lahore

 External billets


Air Marshal Farhat Hussain Khan — Chairman, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra


Air Vice Marshal Riaz-ul-Haq — Deputy DG, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Karachi


— DG Logistics at Joint Staff HQ, Chaklala


Air Vice Marshal Kamal Alam Siddiqui — Director, Precision Engineering Complex (PEC), Karachi


Air Vice Marshal Sajid Habib — DG Joint Operations, GHQ, Rawalpindi


Air Vice Marshal Syed Najam-ul-Asar — Additional Secretary-II (PAF) at Ministry of Defence, Rawalpindi


Air Vice Marshal Tariq Matin — Managing Director, Technology Commercialization Corp (STEDEC) (under Ministry of Science and Technology), Lahore


Air Vice Marshal Zubair Iqbal Malik — DG Air Weapons Complex (AWC), Wah Cantonment


Air Vice Marshal Asif Raza — Pro Rector, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad


Air Vice Marshal Aminullah Khan — Managing Director, Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF) at PAC Kamra

 Special Forces

Main article: Special Service Wing


PAF Special Services Wing carrying FN F2000 rifles while on training at the Fort Lewis, Wash. in USA on, July 23, 2007.

Special Service Wing (SSW) is an independent commando division of the Pakistan Air Force. It is an elite special operations force based upon the US Air Force's 1st Special Operations Wing unit and the US Army's Ranger units. This the newest component to the Special Forces of Pakistan. The division has recently been created and is fielding between 700 to 1,000 men in one company.

 Women in the PAF

Females have been enrolled in the Pakistan Air Force since its creation, but their induction had been limited to administrative branches only. However, females are now allowed to enroll in the aerospace engineering and other programs of the nation's air force academy. Two batches of female fighter pilots graduated in year 2006 bringing out the first female pilots of the Pakistan Air Force.[54]

On March 31 2006, 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 regular training. Saira Amin, a female cadet, has made history by being the first woman pilot to have won the Sword of Honour in any defence academy of Pakistan, at the passing out parade of the 117th GD (P) at Risalpur[55] Of the first four female pilots, none qualified for a fighter aircraft squadron of the Air Force. They are therefore now part of the light communication squadron of Pakistan Air Force. Later on PAF High command decided to close women induction in future fighter courses.


 Combat aircraft

Main article: List of aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force

The PAF currently operates approximately 400 combat aircraft of 5 different types, planned to be reduced to 3 types by 2015. There are around 20 front-line squadrons.[56]


A Chengdu F-7P in flight over Lahore.

The primary air defence fighter is the Chengdu F-7, of which two variants are in service; 120 F-7P and 60 F-7PG. An upgraded variant of the F-7M, F-7P incorporates many PAF-specific modifications such as Martin-Baker ejection seat, two extra weapon stations for a total of 5, an extra 30 mm cannon and an Italian-designed FIAR Grifo 7 multi-mode radar. F-7P was inducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s, intended to supplement a fleet of more advanced F-16 fighters. The Grifo 7 radar was later upgraded to the Grifo 7 mk.II version. The F-7PG variant incorporates a "cranked delta" wing which improves take-off, landing and turning performance considerably, as well as extra space in the nose to accommodate the much improved Grifo 7PG radar. F-7 replaced around 250 Shenyang J-6 fighters which were the PAF's workhorse throughout the 1970s and 1980s. F-7 is also used to perform limited strike duties.

The second most numerous type is the French-designed Dassault Mirage III and Dassault Mirage 5, which differ mainly in nose shape and avionics fit. Mirage III fighters are geared towards performing multiple mission types, including interception and strike, whereas Mirage 5 fighters are more focused towards strike missions. Around 150 Mirage fighters are in service, many of which are second-hand examples procured from other countries, making the PAF the largest operator of the type in the world. In the 1990s and early 2000s, 33 Mirage III and 34 Mirage 5 fighters were upgraded under Project ROSE (Retrofit Of Strike Element) with modern avionics, significantly improving their capabilities. Mirage III ROSE fighters are configured for multiple mission types such as air superiority and strike, whereas Mirage 5 ROSE fighters specialise in the day/night strike role.


A F-16A Block 15 with landing gear extended.

The most capable fighter in PAF service from 1983 to 2007 has been the F-16 Fighting Falcon. 40 of the F-16A Block 15 models were delivered from 1983 to 1987. On 12 April 2006, the government of Pakistan authorized the purchase of up to 77 F-16C/D fighters from the U.S. but, due to financial constraints, eventually only 12 F-16C and 6 F-16D Block 52+ were ordered with a further 18 aircraft optional. Lack of new-build F-16s is to be made up by procuring second-hand F-16s and upgrading them with Block 52+ avionics. [57][58]



A Nanchang A-5 tactical bomber in service with China.

The Nanchang A-5C (or A-5III) is a Chinese-designed light bomber based on the Shenyang J-6 fighter which was operated by the PAF until 2002. Inducted in 1982 to help defend against a possible attack from the Soviet Union, it replaced the last of the PAF's B-57 Canberra bombers and around 100 were procured in total for a reported flyaway cost of USD$1 million each. Numbers were reduced later and around 42 remain in service. Retirement of the type was initially planned in the late 1990s and shortfall in capabilities was to be met by upgraded Mirage 5 fighters modified under Project ROSE, but the aircraft's excellent flight safety record ensured it stayed operational.


The JF-17 during a flypast performance on 23 March 2007 in Islamabad.

The JF-17 Thunder, a new fighter jointly developed by China and Pakistan, is currently being inducted by the PAF and it is expected to gradually replace all Dassault Mirage III/5, Nanchang A-5 and Chengdu F-7 by 2015. A total of 250-300 aircraft are planned to be built, with later aircraft featuring improved airframes, avionics and engines. Currently 8 pre-production aircraft are in service and the first JF-17 squadron is planned to be made officially operational in early 2010. The first Pakistani-built JF-17, manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, was rolled out and handed over to the PAF on on 23 November 2009.

The PAF also plans to induct a number of Chengdu FC-20 fighters, a PAF-specific variant of the Chinese Chengdu J-10. 36 aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2015. 114 more might come.[59]

Transport aircraft


PAF C-130 Hercules

The C-130 Hercules has been the PAF's primary tactical transport aircraft since its induction in the early 1960s. Currently around 5 C-130B and 7 C-130E models are in service, upgraded with Allison T56-A-15 turboprops and extended fatigue lives by Lockheed-Georgia Company. The C-130 is supplemented by 4 CASA CN-235 STOL transports, although the 4th aircraft is equipped with an interior for transporting VIPs such as the PAF Chief of Air Staff. Heavy-lift transports comprise 3 Boeing 707s transferred from Pakistan International Airlines starting 1986.Recently PAKISTAN AIR FORCE has also inducted 4 Russian made Ilyushin Transport/Tanker aircraft equipped with Mid Air Refuelling System(MARS). This will certainly enhance Pakistan Air Force's operational capability and ability to carryout long range offensives.


PAF Super Mushak Trainer

 Surface-to-air missile systems


Crotale 4000 - A short to medium range air defence system. 11 Crotale 2000 acquisition units and 23 missile batteries were inducted in 1976. These were later upgraded to Crotale 4000 standard in Pakistan, increasing missile range from 20 km to 30 km.[60] Crotale is expected to be replaced by Spada 2000.[61]


MBDA Spada 2000 - A low to medium altitude air defence system consisting of a radar with 60 km range and four 6-cell missile launchers. The Aspide 2000 missile can intercept enemy missiles and aircraft at a range of over 20 km. A contract for 10 batteries was signed after Spada 2000 was selected over competing systems from Raytheon, Diehl BGT and Saab and pre-contract firing tests in Pakistan, which were assisted by the Italian Air Force.[62] According to some sources, Pakistan ordered 20 Spada 2000 air defence systems and 750 Aspide 2000 missiles in 2007.[63]


HQ-2 - Chinese version of SA-2 Guideline high altitude air defence system, 12 or more batteries procured circa 1970s.[64]


HQ-9 - In October 2003 it was reported that China had closed a deal with Pakistan to supply an unspecified number of FT-2000 systems, an anti-radiation variant of the HQ-9 long range air defence system,[65] although in March 2009 a report was published stating that Pakistan was not considering importing the missile.[66] It was reported in mid-2008 that Pakistan intended to purchase a high altitude air defence and missile defence system and the FD-2000, another variant of HQ-9, was expected to be chosen.[61][67]


RBS 70: Low-altitude air defence system that fires laser beam-riding missiles.[68][69]


Anza Mk.1/Mk.2/Mk.3: Man-portable air defence system of Pakistani origin which is made by Kahuta Research Laboratories.[70]


Mistral: Low altitude man-portable air defence system of French origin.[71]


FIM-92 Stinger: Low altitude man-portable air defence system of U.S. origin.[72