Imran H. Khan

Yousaf_Khan

In order to get a much deeper understanding of the capabilities of F-86, I had a unique opportunity to have a candid discussion about its performance in actual air combat with a  Pakistan Air Force officer, then Flt. Lt Yousaf Ali Khan. He shared his experience in the F-86 in the video below. His praise of F-86 is specially noteworthy as he can objectively compare it with other contemporary fighters like the Hunter and Mig-21 which he also flew.  Besides his insights into the noteworthy aspects of the F-86, his story is a compelling one from a number of different aspects. While the video was made in very informal circumstances, I thought that it worthwhile sharing it as it was a unique opportunity to capture some very important historical events that shaped the 1965 war of the Indian sub continent.

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Imran H. Khan

F-86_dayton_FrontSome stories take a lifetime to develop. Sometimes an incredibly capable concoction of aluminium, rubber and electronics ends up reminding you of its significance from time to time all during ones life. One such very exquisite piece of technology is the F-86 Sabre. Most recently I came across it standing in the National Museum of USAF in Dayton Ohio. It belonged to Bruce Hinton who became the first US pilot to shoot down a Mig-15 in the Korean war. My earliest childhood memory in Mauripur PAF base, Karachi are filled with the sights and sounds of this new aircraft that would shake the windows of our house, as the pilots were flying them low like the propeller driven planes that they had been used to. One of my fondest memory is of my father taking me to the F-86 that he had just ferried from the US. He had hidden an inordinate number of toys in all possible compartments that he opened one after the other to my unending joy. It was quite a heady times for a newly formed nation with such state of the art planes. I can only imagine what a high it would have been for my father from being a refugee ,with the only belonging being the clothes on his body a few years earlier after partition, to being able to fly these shiny airborne chariots. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) ended up acquiring 240 Sabres that stayed in service from 1956 to 1979.

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Air Cdre Kaiser Tufail (Retd)

This is the second part of the post. It is from one of the chapters of the upcoming book “Air War-1971″

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Air Cdre Kaiser Tufail (Retd)

Looking at the grotesque disparity between the Air Forces arrayed against each other in the Eastern wing – one PAF combat squadron versus twelve of IAF – one cannot but agree that the idea of ‘defence of East lies in the West’ reflected a realistic appraisal of the grim situation by the Pakistani military strategists. With the PAF’s air element not expected to last beyond a day or two at best, and the outnumbered Pak Army hopelessly encircled by the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, strategic compulsions demanded that a front be opened in the West at the earliest to capture Indian territory and redeem some lost honour.  Occupation of Indian territory was no less important from the point of view of bargaining the release of POWs that were bound to be captured in East Pakistan, en masse.  Sadly however, this line of thinking meant that the Pakistani forces in the East were sacrificial lambs and, would have to submit to the inevitable sooner or later.  The only challenge for the unfortunate soldiers, sailors and airmen was to delay the impending disaster as much as they could, in the dim hope of some miracle occurring on the geo-political front at the eleventh hour.  If ever there was a pathetic and despondent situation at the outset of a modern day conflict, the one faced by Pakistani armed forces in East Pakistan was beyond compare. Read more

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Imran H. Khan

The recent US mission to get Osama without the knowledge of Pakistan Air Force was a success because of PAF’s lack of investment in sensors that can detect low flying aircraft in undulating and hilly terrain. This is not the first time that PAF has been caught in this embarrassing situation. Indian Air Force was able to penetrate deep into Pakistani territory in 1971, knowing that PAF did not have low level radar coverage in many areas.  At that time PAF depended on mobile observer units (MOUs) for human visual and aural detection of planes.  This man power intensive brute force effort only worked in limited areas and only during war. Despite investing in limited low altitude radars and airborne radars it is obvious that there are gaping holes in the air defense system as exemplified by the unscathed operation of multiple large rotor helicopters for hours in Pakistani airspace deep into its territory.

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by Imran H. Khan

Core technologies and capabilities that drive the economies take a long time, large amounts of money and even bigger patience to bear fruit. But once they mature, the rewards are well worth the effort.  Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers” makes a similar case for outstanding achievers, that it is more of their earlier start than their brains that make them excel. It is sustained practice of ones art or profession that over the period of time blossoms into an unsurpassed  ability.  Developing countries typically try to shy away from making investments in longer gestation technologies and therefore commit themselves to the path of perpetually playing catchup with developed countries. This is a story of a jet engine that propelled Air Forces possessing it into an unrivaled position. Read more

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by Air Cdre M Kaiser Tufail(Retd)

“Enemy pilots should see it, but never catch up with it.”
[MARCEL DASSAULT]
Mirage IIIRP 67-202, one of the first three recce version Mirages ready for its ferry flight from FranceAt the outbreak of the 1971 Indo-Pak War, Mirage IIIEs were the newest and most advanced combat aircraft in the PAF inventory. Besides performing a wider variety of missions, they could generate a higher daily sortie rate compared to the aging F-86s, F-104s and B-57s. They could navigate accurately to relatively deeper targets and, after the attack, egress at high speed. They could carry out straight line, hit-and-run intercepts against raiders as adeptly as the F-104s, though the radar performance of both fighters was suspect against low-flying targets in ground clutter. Coupled with marginal performance of the five-odd low level AR-1 air defence radars which were interspersed with yawning gaps, PAF’s intercept capability was of consequence during day only; at night-time, it was a chance in a million, as it were. Read more

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An informal off-the-record expose by Air Marshal (R) Inam H. Khan

F-6-ChinaPakistan was the first Muslim country to recognize China in 1950 and the third non communist state. Pakistan then voted for a bill concerning the restoration of China’s legitimate rights in the UN. PIA became the first non-communist airline to fly into China in 1964.

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by Air Cdre M Kaiser Tufail (Retd) F-6

The US embargo on military sales to Pakistan at the outbreak of 1965 Indo-Pak War was received with dismay and disbelief by the PAF, whose combat and training aircraft were totally of US origin. Already starting to get outclassed by more modern aircraft, the F-86Fs, F-104s and B-57s were now plagued by spares support problems that rendered them virtually worthless in the PAF. The C-in-C of the PAF, Air Marshal Nur Khan who had cannily led the force during the war, sensed the criticality of the situation and started an immediate search for suitable aircraft from new sources. Read more

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by Imran H. Khan

Naseem2Pakistan has been blessed with many amazing women whose stories have been largely untold. Shahla Haeri wrote about some of them involved in the social sphere in her book “No Shame for the Sun“. OPEN’s chapters have also held conferences and forums highlighting the role of Pakistani American women in the US. In the recent years three Pakistani women have defied all odds and achieved remarkable success in achieving some of the highest goals typically associated with men. These achievements are specially significant taking into account their economic and geographic origins. Read more

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