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War possibility has Pak air force worried

Monday, 22 December 2008 - 8:38pm IST | Place: ISLAMABAD
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has warned the nation’s civilian leadership that in case of an armed conflict with India, PAF could lose its skies within a week.

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has warned the nation’s civilian leadership that in case of an armed conflict with India, PAF could lose its skies within a week.

In a secret report, the air force has told president Asif Ali Zardari, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, that PAF’s entire war strategy rests on a strike at the heart of India’s western air command - as was the case in 1965. Which means, disabling a great number of Indian aircraft before they take off to establish supremacy in the air.

The report points out the bitter fact that PAF only has about three dozen truly world-class fighter planes — F-16 Fighting Falcons — and of them, only a handful are the latest block-52 fighters. The remaining are ageing aircraft acquired 20-25 years ago.

These are not even a match for Su-30s and are outnumbered by MiG-29s.

After F-16s, the PAF report points out, Pakistan has Mirage-IIIs and Mirage-Vs. The fact, however, remains the earliest of these were received over 37 years ago. Pakistan also relies heavily on F-7Ps, the Chinese version of the Soviet MiG-21s, which currently is India’s most dispensable plane.

JF-17s, rumoured to have a production cost of $17 million per unit, are still years from becoming PAF’s mainstay. There are other planes, including a solitary surviving squadron of MiG-19, or F-6, as it is called, its A-5 variant ground attack aircraft, FT-5 (a variant of MiG-17), the jet trainer K-8 and the Super Mushak, but these would be of little consequence in a full-blown conflict.

Pitting against these planes is a wide range of aircraft, including but not limited to, Su-30s, Mirage-2000s, MiG-29s, MiG-27s, MiG-23s and MiG-21s, which make the Indian Air Force a formidable nemesis.




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