Information About the Pakistan Air Force
- In its beginnings the Pakistan Air Force consisted of a group of around 2,000 men and a fleet of 16 Tempest II fighters/bombers; two C-47 Dakota transports; 12 T-6G Harwards and seven Tiger Moth biplanes. As such the PAF was not a credible defense unit. To make matters worse the equipment or expertise to maintain and service these planes was lacking. Also, although Pakistan held seven operational air fields, the facilities at these bases was extremely limited.
Size and Importance
- Pakistan devotes a huge amount of its resources to defense and a large part of that goes into the PAF. The Pakistan Air Force today has nine fully functioning operating bases in peace and war time. These bases are supplemented by an additional 11 forward bases, which become operational in war time. The 211-mile M-2 motorway can also be used as an airstrip in times of war. The PAF has 22 combat squadrons. Due to its difficult relationship with India, Pakistan has been on a war footing for its entire existence; hence the well-funded air force.
- In 2002, for their help in anti-terrorism activities, the U.S. promised Pakistan military aid and in 2004 declared Pakistan a Major Non-NATO ally. The Bush administration along with other Western governments, removed sanctions on sophisticated weaponry. Western governments were terrified that Pakistan, if isolated from the West, would become a breeding ground for international terrorism. The PAF’s Air Chief Marshal Saadat states that ““The country obtained economic assistance, debt rescheduling and favorable trade conditions. This saw the Pakistan Government embark on a planned development of its armed forces and the PAF was granted a major allocation of resources.”
- In March 2005 the Bush administration announced that it would agree to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan. President Musharraf had been pleading with the U.S. to provide the planes for over two years; he was given the agreement as a reward for Pakistan’s efforts in the “war on terror”. Since Pakistan has bought a large number of F-16s from the U.S to equip squadrons without existing F-16s and to replace Pakistan’s 32 1980s F-16s in service. These F-16s increase Pakistan’s strategic capability and act as a military deterrent.
- The Pakistan Air Force has considerable weaknesses. Pakistan constantly fears renewed conflict with India, but India's Air Force and military in general is many times bigger than that of Pakistan; Pakistan is severely out forced. Also the PAF lacks sufficient infrastructure, especially in the southern sector. There are as well, gaps in its low-level radar coverage; its mix of Western and Russian aircraft mean that the logistics of maintenance and servicing are complex and inefficient. Also, there have been a large amount of flying accidents over the past decade due to the unreliability of the forces MiG planes.