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Question 2: paf vs iaf

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Indian Air Force (IAF) are the two regional forces
frequently at war and engaged in a never ending arms race. History has proved
PAF to be superior whenever the two forces were involved in air combat. This
was primarily attributed to sound professionalism and training of PAF crew, great
serviceability and upkeep of war reserves and a slight technological edge of PAF
over IAF. IAF analysts concluded that PAF’s possession of air to air
missiles and a single operational squadron of supersonic mach 2 (twice the
speed of sound) fighters and their absence with the IAF provided PAF pilots with
a tremendous advantage and were demoralizing for the IAF aircrew. IAF’s
numerical superiority was effectively neutralized and proved of little avail in the
Given the importance of air power in modern warfare, a crucial factor to analyze
the outcome of any conflict betwee7n Pakistan and India becomes analyzing the
viability of each air force. Both the forces realized this fact learning from various
conflicts and strived since then to achieve technological edge over the other. PAF
suffered a lot in this regard in past two decades as Pakistan was one of the most
sanctioned countries in the world and sanctions were focused mainly on military
hardware. As a result of sanctions, PAF resorted to explore black market spares
for existing fleet at lower prices and made a turn towards Chinese emerging
technology. A fair number of Mirage airframes and engines were purchased from
nations that had mothballed and retired them, at a throwaway price. Many of
these were refurbished and made fully serviceable, some through indigenous
effort and some through foreign contractors. Moreover, PAF inducted a huge
number of F-7P and F-7PG aircrafts from China spending comparatively less
revenue and modified them for air defense role. The joint venture of China and
Pakistan also came into existence in the form of JF-17 aircraft which matched the
capabilities of any modern jet at a fraction of price. This happened primarily
because of sanctions that PAF has a mixture of war assets and technologies
difficult for the enemy to jam and intercept. I would comment that PAF always
kept a minimum deterrence level with IAF smartly and efficiently spending a very
fraction of money that IAF did.
The capability of air forces at the dawn of 2011 is beyond the number and
quality of jet fighters. Electronic Warfare capabilities form an important element
of modern warfare. Based on this proven fact, capability of any air force is
measured by the technology of ground based sensors, network centric
operations capability, strength of Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems,
Avionics suite on the airborne platforms, security of communication and
information, sophisticated weapons with accurate delivery mechanisms and
Multirole capabilities of jet fighters. These indicators enable prompt decisions
from higher echelons in war scenario and thus inflicting heavy strikes in the
enemy territory without being noticed and intercepted by enemy radars. The rule
of the modern air combat is simple: None of your aircraft gets noticed by enemy
radars and none of enemy’s aircraft gets blanked from your radars. Both
IAF and PAF have been working hard in last few years to achieve maximum
technological edge in terms of electronic and network centric warfare. In
subsequent paragraphs, I will analyze and compare both air forces based on
various indicators and capabilities specified above.

Combat Aircrafts
PAF Capability
Pakistan Air Force has a great history to cherish when it comes to air combat.
This was not because of the number of combat aircrafts but the sound
professionalism of its crew. PAF today carries approximately 450 combat aircrafts
on its fleet of different variants.
The most capable fighter in PAF service remains F-16 Fighting Falcon. 40 of the F16 Block 15 models were delivered to PAF from 1983 to 1987. Deliveries of
another 28 F-16s were stopped after the 1990 arms embargo imposed on
Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment but 14 of these were later delivered
during 2005-2008. The present F-16 fleet is being upgraded with MLU (Mid-Life
Update) modification kits and Falcon Star Structural Service Life Enhancement
kits by Turkish Aerospace Industries. The MLU package will include new APG-69
radars, Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems along with new communications,
targeting, data link and electronic warfare systems. This upgrade will enhance
the capabilities of more than a decade old fleet of F-16s which would help reduce
the yawning technological gap with the IAF.
In 2006, 12 F-16C and 6 F-16D Block 52+ models were ordered with a further 18
aircraft optional. 14 of the optional fighters were ordered in 2010. The first batch
of 3 F-16C/D fighters landed at PAF Base Shahbaz, Jacacobad, on 26 June, 2010.
An addition of 28 F-16s with latest avionics suite would make it a very potent
weapon against any IAF aircraft and boost PAF’s conventional
deterrence. And this enhancement of PAF’s deterrence will be achieved
at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new weapon system of a similar class
like the French Mirage 2000-5s. The 28 F-16s are priced at less than three million
dollars a piece in the international market. Their mid life upgrade would cost
about seven and a half millions per piece making their unit cost to be about ten
million dollars. A comparable plane from Europe would cost at least five times as
much, besides taking a much longer period for full assimilation.
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 aircrafts by 2015. A total of
250-300 aircrafts are planned to be built, with later aircrafts featuring improved
airframes, avionics and engines. Currently 14 aircrafts are in service and the first
JF-17 squadron is officially made operational. The first Pakistani-built JF-17,
manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, was rolled out and handed
over to the PAF on 23 November 2009. The Thunder may be classified as a
‘Medium Tech’ plane when compared to USAF’s F-22
and French Rafale, but in the India – Pakistan scenario especially in the
air defence role it should serve the nation well for at least two decades. Its
advanced AI radar, avionics, defensive suites and BVR capability would make it a
very potent aircraft against any IAF fighter.
The upgrade of old F-16s, induction of new Block 52 models and locally
developed JF-17 multi role combat planes provide PAF with BVR capability thus

ending exclusive IAF BVR edge over PAF. PAF is also planning to add a few
number of American and Chinese BVRs to its inventory with capabilities
matching to its adversary having maximum target range of 40 Km. The great
avionics suite coupled with BVR capability will surely drive nuts to IAF pilots in air
The other air defence fighter in PAF fleet 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 F7PG 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 F-6 fighters which were the PAF’s workhorse
throughout the 1970s and 1980s. F-7 is also used to perform limited strike
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 specialize in the day/night
strike role. Through painstaking research and staff work PAF succeeded in
reequipping a substantial portion of its Mirage fleet with AI radar whose
performance eclipsed that of the F-16 radar. Modified to carry the all aspect heatseeking air to air missiles, excellent AI radar, addition of defensive electronic
suites and the speed to match the adversary, the PAF Mirages have been
converted into potent air defence platforms.
The Nanchang A-5C (or A-5III) is a Chinese-designed light bomber. 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.
PAF is planning to induct a number of the Chinese Chengdu FC-20, an advanced
PAF-specific variant of the Chengdu J-10. 36 fighters equipping two FC-20
squadrons are expected to be delivered by 2015 and, according to some reports,

the FC-20 fleet may eventually be increased to 150 fighters.

Because of a limited number of combat aircrafts, PAF crew has been sweating
hard day and night for keeping the fleet at maximum level of operational
readiness. Together, all branches of PAF are delivering unprecedented
serviceability rates of around 85 percent and efficient management of all
resources. The aggressive spirit and readiness status of the PAF was one of the
principal factors amongst many others that eventually made India blink first and
withdraw without any preconditions before any encounter.
IAF Capability
IAF operates approximately 471 fighters and 269 bombers of British, Russian and
French origin. Russian aircrafts dominate IAF inventory which have not proved
worthwhile for India in past air battles. IAF has always kept numerical superiority
over PAF and today IAF has a technological edge over PAF as well. This is
attributable mainly to a decade of sanctions imposed on Pakistan. PAF, being
aware of this fact, is not far away from minimizing this technological gap and will
be a much superior air force by 2015 in terms of technology.
The primary air superiority fighter flown by IAF is Sukhoi Su-30 MKI. The Sukhoi
Su-30MKI is a multirole combat aircraft jointly developed by Russia’s
Sukhoi Corporation and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for
the Indian Air Force (IAF). A variant of the Sukhoi Su-30, it is an all-weather
capable, heavy class, long-range air superiority fighter which can also act as a
strike fighter aircraft. The aircraft features state of the art avionics developed by
Russia, India and Israel which includes display, navigation, targeting and
electronic warfare systems. Other key avionics used in the aircraft were sourced
from France and South Africa. Sukhoi Su-30 MKI is highly maneuverable and it
has the capability to carry all aspect medium and long range laser guided, radar
guided, TV guided and infrared homing seeker air to air missiles on 12 hard
points. Anti-Ship missiles, Cruise missiles and Cluster bombs can also be hung on
few of its hard points. This single aircraft fulfils IAF needs for attaining air
superiority over PAF.
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is the IAF’s dedicated air superiority fighter and
forms the second line of defence for the IAF after the Sukhoi Su-30MKI. The IAF
operates 69 MiG-29s, all of which are currently being upgraded to the MiG-29SMT
standard with state of the art avionics, upgraded radar and air-to-air refuelling to
increase endurance. According to Indian sources, two MiG-29s from the
IAF’s No. 47 squadron (Black Archers) gained missile lock on two F-16s of
the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) which were patrolling close to the border to prevent
any incursions by Indian aircraft, but did not engage them because no official
declaration of war had been issued. The Indian MiG-29s were armed with beyondvisual-range air-to-air missiles whereas the Pakistani F-16s were not.
The Dassault Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine fourth-generation
jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. The IAF currently operates 51
Mirage 2000Hs. India has assigned the nuclear strike role to its Mirage 2000
squadrons in service with the Indian Air Force since 1985. In 1999 when the

Kargil conflict broke out, the Mirage 2000 performed remarkably well during the
whole conflict in the high Himalayas, even though the Mirages supplied to India
had limited air interdiction capability and had to be heavily modified to drop
laser-guided bombs as well as conventional unguided bombs. Two Mirage
squadrons flew a total of 515 sorties, and in 240 strike missions dropped 55,000
kg (120,000 lb) of ordnance. Easy maintenance and a very high sortie rate made
the Mirage 2000 one of the most efficient fighters of the Indian Air Force in the
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the
Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. In 1961, the Indian Air
Force (IAF) opted to purchase the MiG-21 over several other Western competitors
because the Soviet Union offered India full transfer of technology and rights for
local assembly. The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 serves as an Interceptor aircraft in
the IAF. The IAF currently operates about 200 MiG-21s, 121 of which have been
upgraded to MiG-21 Bison standard. While the MiG-21 Bison is likely to be in
service till 2017, the remaining aircraft are expected to be phased out by 2013.
The MiG-21s are planned to be replaced by the indigenously built HAL Tejas.
The HAL Tejas is a lightweight multirole jet fighter developed by India. It is a
tailless, compound delta wing design powered by a single engine. It came from
the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which was started in the 1980s to
replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. This aircraft features modern
state of the art avionics including Night Vision Goggles (NVG) compatible glass
cockpit, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and state of the art radar. The aircraft
contains secure communication equipment and data links. This aircraft will
perform as good as PAF indigenously developed JF-17 thunder aircraft in air
The Mikoyan MiG-27 is a variable-geometry ground-attack aircraft, originally built
by the Mikoyan design bureau in the Soviet Union and later license-produced in
India by Hindustan Aeronautics. On 27 May 1999, during the Kargil War, one
Indian MiG-27 was lost together with a MiG-21 while supporting Indian ground
offensive in Kashmir region. Both pilots ejected and one of them, Flight
Lieutenant K.Nachiketa was later captured by Pakistani forces and the other one
Sqn. Ldr.Ajay Ahuja is believed to have ejected safely, but was subsequently
killed by the Pakistanis. Since 2001, the Indian Air Force lost 13 MiG-27s in
different crashes.
The SEPECAT Jaguar is an Anglo-French jet ground attack aircraft, originally used
in the close air support and nuclear strike role by the Indian Air Force. Indian
Jaguars were used to carry out reconnaissance missions in support of the Indian
Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. They later played an
active role in the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, dropping both unguided and
laser-guided bombs, the IAF defining its role as a “deep penetrating
strike aircraft”. The Jaguar remains an important element of the Indian
military as, along with the Mirage 2000, the Jaguar is viewed as one of the few
aircraft currently capable of performing the nuclear strike role with reasonable
chances of success. The Jaguar was also used in small numbers for the anti-ship
role, equipped with the Sea Eagle missile.

Despite numerical superiority, MIG aircrafts have a big crash rate in IAF. IAF
analysts have attributed increasing rate of MIG crashes to poor maintenance
practices and low level of professionalism in IAF pilots. MIG aircrafts are inferior
in quality to American counterparts and thus very difficult to maintain. This
consequently decreases the serviceability rate and influences the operational
readiness of IAF. Moreover, Russian jet engines have been a major source of
problem in IAF MIG aircrafts which have been nicknamed “Flying
Coffins”. IAF maintenance crews are not as diligent, their mainly
Russian/Soviet technology is generally less reliable and less effective than
advertised, and a large part of their fleet of MiG-21s and MiG-27s are outdated.
PAF aircraft are either of Western stock or Chinese and are far more maintenance
friendly. Pakistan has also been upgrading their aircraft massively and has
incorporated a complex combination of technology from across the globe
– from China to Brazil, from Europe to the US. IAF aircraft are mainly of
Soviet/Russian origin and are not designed for easy maintenance. The Soviets
designed aircraft for mass production and on the view that combat aircraft would
have short lives in a full scale conflict. As such, ease of maintenance was the last
item on their mind. Even the latest Indian acquisition of Russian aircraft, the Su30 MKI is known for being highly maintenance intensive and extremely fragile.
Modifications to the Flankers have made them even more difficult to maintain
– and example being that IAF sometimes faces tire shortages because
the increased tonnage of the Indian FLANKERs make their tires burn out very
A big technological gap was created once IAF claimed to have Beyond Visual
Range (BVR) capability. BVR missile firing capability provides the first shot
opportunity to any Air force, especially against a non BVR capable adversary.
Indian AF has been practicing BVR missile launches since last two decades and
now IAF is learning advance tactics with foreign Air forces in order to effectively
employ its BVR missiles. Today IAF has a big inventory of Russian origin BVR
missiles and BVR launching capability on majority of aircrafts in IAF fleet. The
truth behind the scene was revealed during a BVR missile firing camp conducted
by IAF when all fired BVRs from various platforms missed their targets. Failure of
missiles to successfully engage the targets really undermines Russian claim of
“Fire and Forget” of their missiles performance.
On the other hand, due to various unavoidable reasons PAF was denied this
capability and thus was forced to continue relying on the short range IR missiles.
Today after a decade of BVR technological gap, PAF has got the capability of
launching BVRs on F-16s and JF-17s. PAF gained BVR capability after signing a
biggest ever single export order deal with U.S in the history of AIM-120 AMRAAM
programme. The missiles will be carried by the PAFs newly ordered F-16C/D Block
50/52 aircraft and its existing F-16A/B Block 15s, which will acquire AMRAAM
compatibility as part of a mid-life upgrade. Pakistan is also expected to acquire
the Chinese-developed SD-10 (PL-12) AAM with its JF-17 Thunder lightweight
fighters. SD-10s would also be part of any potential Chengdu J-10 order.

Air Defencce Capabilities

PAF Capability
In any future conflict, a strong air defence becomes absolutely essential for both
PAF and IAF. Acquisition of fresh radar sensors, their automation, security of
command and control systems, a larger and varied inventory of surface to air
missiles and more cohesive inter-service co-ordination are some of the areas that
figure high in the priority list of both the forces. The air defense set up has
following components – namely – armed interceptors, surface to
air missiles, ground based sensor network and aircraft mounted radar platforms.
PAF has invested efficiently in this area by procuring a wide range of American
and Chinese ground based modern radars. These radars have been deployed at
optimum locations and elevated platforms to look deep inside enemy territory.
Moreover, this variety of radars means variation of technology and thus making
it difficult for the enemy to apply counter measures for jamming and
interception. These radars have integrated Electronic Counter Measures to block
any high power jamming transmissions from the enemy platforms.
The limitation of land based radars of not being able to look beyond a limited
distance at low level due to curvature of the earth has given way to the high
speed low level intruders to remain un detected. Therefore, there was a
requirement to attain a capability of aircraft mounted radar platforms with state
of the art technology. This capability named AWACS (Airborne Early Warning and
Control System) was pursued largely by PAF in few recent years. Despite the up
gradation of existing three DA-20 mounted state of the art platforms, PAF has
added four SAAB-2000 (Swedish) and four ZDK-03 (Chinese) airborne early
warning and control system aircrafts to its inventory. These aircrafts are capable
of providing round the clock defence to Pakistan’s aerial frontiers. These
systems employ various Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communication
Intelligence (COMINT) and Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) features to
prevent against jamming by high power transmissions from hostile elements.
These platforms contain multifunctional displays with state of the art technology
having target detection range of approximately 450 Kilometers. The use of these
aircrafts has been envisaged in multiple support roles of air defence operations,
strike guidance, escorts, army and naval support missions. These systems have
integrated IFF capability and they along with other ground based equipment
have a communication and radar jamming capability. PAF has procured these
systems at a fraction of price once compared to very costly American based
PAF operates numerous combat aircrafts for air defence operations. Till 1990, F16s were the front line air defence interceptors with the PAF: the Mirage and F-7s
were less effective. After their successful modifications, IAF now has to contend
with equally, and in some cases more potent interceptors. PAF had managed, at
a fraction of price, to maintain a credible deterrence despite overwhelming odds.
Surface to air weaponry is an important element of air defence of any air force. It
is an integrated part of huge air defence network which includes ground and air
based radars and combat aircrafts. PAF contains a big variety of surface to air

missiles capable to target any modern jet fighter. The variety of surface to air
missiles includes Crotale 4000, Spada 2000, HQ-2, HQ-9, RBS 70, Anza, Mistral
and Hatf. These missiles can be launched from various portable platforms and
can intercept enemy missiles and aircrafts at the range of approximately 30 Kms.
IAF Capability
India is in the middle of a massive modernization effort in its air defense
infrastructure. Since the year 2004 India has started integrating military and
civilian assets, chiefly airfields and radars, for better air defense surveillance.
India has also integrated software technologies and imported hardware into the
air defense surveillance mechanism. Russian, French and American hardware and
software are helping India a lot. India has to watch China on the North, Pakistan
on the West and Bangladesh in the East. In addition, Sri Lanka is also a hot pot of
problems. The gaps are in the areas of air surveillance detection and operational
readiness. In the age of nuclear-armed Pakistan and China, a delay of a few
seconds can be devastating. IAF is planning to buy sophisticated air defense
equipment to reduce operational gap between detection of adversary and
consequent action by interceptors.
India, with its vast airspace, maintains an advanced Air Defence Ground
Environment System. This system, along with the civilian Air Traffic Control, is
responsible for the detection, identification and, if necessary, the interception of
aircraft in Indian airspace. The Air Defence network is also in the process of being
upgraded to cater for ballistic missile threats.
The radar picket line of India, which lies about 150km behind the border, consists
of a number of radar clusters. These comprise three radar stations separated at
a distance of the sum of their radii. The equipment issued to these clusters
generally comprises one license-made Soviet ST-68/U and two P-18/-19 radars.
These are then flanked by two P-12/-15 radars. The ST-68/U acts as the Control
and Reporting Centre (CRC). This may have changed somewhat as the ST-68U,
which was plagued with some nagging development problems, has largely
replaced older Soviet-made equipment. Moreover, India has been license
producing the French designed TRS-2215D 3-D surveillance radar for a number of
years and has derived indigenously built radar – PSM-33 Mk.2 from it.
These have probably supplanted most of the older Soviet-bloc equipment. It
should be pointed out, that these radars are all long-range surveillance types
with ranges in excess of 300km and good performance against targets flying at
all altitudes – even those employing electronic countermeasures (ECM).
These radar pickets are responsible for giving accurate information on the
intruding force to the Air Defence Control Centers (ADCC) located behind the
radar picket line. The picket line and the ADCC are separated by a first layer of
air defence weapons which are the first to engage the intruders.
The backbone of the Indian Air Defence Ground Environment system is the THD1955 3-D long-range surveillance radar. This radar, originally of French design,
has been license produced in India for a number of years. This radar, though
somewhat elderly, still has sterling performance characteristics and is capable of
maximum detection ranges of up to 1000 km, though in peacetime the Indian Air

Force usually limits its power to a 400km detection range.

India’s air defences currently rely on a mix of MiG-21/-23/-29 and Mirage
2000 interceptors and thirty-eight squadrons of surface-to-air missiles. The SAM
units comprise 30 squadrons of SA-3b Pechoras and 8 squadrons of SA-8b OSAAKM systems and are deployed to protect key air bases as well as some major
military/industrial centres. In addition, a large number of L-40/70 radar directed
40mm anti-aircraft guns and man-portable Igla-1M SAMs are deployed to provide
a ‘last-ditch’ tier of ‘hard-kill’ defences. It
should be pointed out, however, that this system is geared up to the defence of
point targets and not for overall area defence. It also lacks a viable capability
against ballistic missiles. With this in mind, the Indian Air Force has begun a
massive modernization of its strategic air defences.
The first signs that India was modernizing its air defences came when a massive
order was placed for Sukhoi Su-30 combat aircraft. These aircraft are primarily
long range interceptors; capable of intercepting targets at ranges exceeding
120km. India’s interceptors are equipped with a mix of French and
Russian air-to-air missiles. Owing to the large number of these aircraft at the
disposal of the IAF, it is impossible for their air defence potential to be ignored.
To counter the dual nuclear threat from China and Pakistan, India plans to make a
comprehensive ballistic missile defence system one of its major defence
priorities. India’s first efforts in this field can be seen in the much
delayed Akash SAM. This medium range SAM will provide a limited ATBM
capability to India. Moreover, India has announced plans to develop a two-tier
ballistic missile defence system to deal with incoming ballistic missiles. The
system is to use satellites for communications and a unique two layered
defensive line using surface-to-air missile for any incoming ballistic missile
attack. India has also been enhancing its ballistic missile detection capabilities
by purchasing two Israeli Green Pine radars and a large number of Aerostat
Indian Air Force has been pursuing a programme for the acquisition of Airborne
Early Warning & Control System (AWACS) capability for over twenty years. This
quest finally ended when a contract worth 1 billion US$ was signed for supply of
three Israeli built “Phalcon” radar systems for mounting on
IAF’s IL-76 aircraft, in August, 2003. Phalcon developed by Israeli
Aerospace Industries is known to be the latest and most sophisticated AWACS of
the world. However, mounting Phalcon system on IL-76 aircraft was not very wise
because IL-76 is not very agile and does not contain any weapon for self
Another Electronic Warfare platform held with IAF is Boeing – 737 which
is equipped with Israeli system and integrated with latest state of the art
powerful radio jamming system. IAF has also inducted Gulf Stream III as Stand
off/Escort Jammer which is fitted with Italian EW suit. Above all, IAF has
integrated Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) capability to all of its combat

As India urges to deploy a sound ballistic missile defence program, most of its
ground based sensors are ageing and getting old. The available and installed
ground based sensors actually are insufficient to cover Indian borders from
south. Ballistic missile defence programme would surely give IAF a technological
edge over PAF in preventing any nuclear ballistic missile strike. PAF must take a
serious note of this and maintain some deterrence level with IAF in ballistic
missile defence. PAF has got an upper edge in terms of area coverage provided
by ground based sensors. They are of varying nature, much sophisticated and
cover length and width of the country. Pakistan operates a bewildering variety of
radars from varying sources. The most modern units are TPS-77 3-D long range
radars. These are supplemented by some older American, Chinese and British
long range radars. PAF air defence network is very comprehensive and well
integrated once compared with IAF air defense network. Pakistan’s Air
Defence Command was formed over a decade before India’s. It exercises
control, surveillance and coordination over all Pakistani airspace. The ADC
Headquarters is based in bunkers 5 to 10 meters below ground and has four rows
of consoles with 20-25 men operating them. All units – aircraft, airbases
and AAA units – are represented on screens. In fact, the ADC HQ set-up is
regarded as being one of the most modern in existence.
Moreover, IAF AWACS platforms are not sufficient to maintain a round-the-clock
watch over Pakistan airspace and other borders. India has a big border and
needs a handful of airborne radar platforms to keep and eye on all the border
areas round the clock. IAF AWACS technology is not very comprehensive and
effective once compared to PAF AWACS technology.
C4I Structures
PAF Capability
PAF has worked extensively for improvements in C4I (Command, Control,
Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) structures and a revamped,
modernized air defense and communication network. Working on the principle of
network centric warfare, communication between all the radar sensors installed
across Pakistan is shared at a central location which makes it swift for the higher
echelons to make quick decisions. The information sharing between ground
based sensors, airborne radar platforms and red hot air defense alert combat
fighters is very secure, encrypted and fast. The information sharing between
unmanned aerial vehicles and ground based decision making agencies is based
on real time data link. In few recent years PAF has been able to develop a strong
optical fiber network between different bases and centers. Moreover, the radio
communication between the air and ground crew is encrypted and secure.
IAF Capability
Indian Air Force has invested heavily in its quest to achieve network centric
capability. The biggest milestone accomplished in this regard was the launch of
Air Force Net (AFNET) with state of the art communications infrastructure having
the potential for network centric operations. The deployments of AFNET and

other systems have put the IAF in the forefront of Network Centric Warfare (NCW)
enabled nations. This quantum leap in the field of communication & information
technology will help IAF field units to train and develop tactics, techniques and
procedures to realize the full benefits of network-enabled capabilities. AFNET
integrates information sharing between Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),
Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircrafts, space based
assets, combat fighters operating in AD role, air defense sensors, air defense
weapons and command and control authorities incorporating real time data links,
optical fiber links, encrypted radio links and satellite communication network.
Indian Air Force leads the arena of network centric warfare as India has invested
so much in its space programme. India has many satellites in orbit which are also
being used for military reconnaissance and network centric warfare. India will
surely achieve a total space control over Pakistan if the situation demands.
Indian satellites will also assist in many of the operations of Indian military
against Pakistan. Pakistan needs to gear up its space programme for assistance
in military operations and network centric warfare capabilities. It is pertinent to
mention here that Pakistan has a leased satellite, PAKSAT-1, in the 38 degree
East longitude geostationary orbit. The government of Pakistan has granted
approval for the replacement of PAKSAT-1 by a new communication satellite
PAKSAT 1R by 2011.
PAF has invested heavily to build a very strong command and control structure
for its air defense network. Today PAF C4I structures are very well integrated and
comprehensive once compared to IAF. The data from all PAF air defense sensors
is collected and transmitted through secure and fast communication lines to one
central location. This integrated approach helps in swift decision making and
reduces the gap between detection of enemy aircrafts and action by friendly
interceptors. IAF has got a very modern C4I network infrastructure but it is not
integrated. In my opinion, IAF will be able to develop a very comprehensive,
satellite based command and control infrastructure in near future supported by
state of the art air defense network. This kind of setup will make it nearly
impossible for any foe to penetrate in IAF aerial territory.
Force Multipliers
PAF Capability
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. C-130 Hercules aircrafts have been
modified for Reconnaissance roles assisting PAF Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)
with real time data links to transmit information.
The C-130 is supplemented by 4 CASA CN-235 STOL transport aircrafts. Heavylift transports comprise 3 Boeing 707s transferred from Pakistan International
Airlines since 1986. The other transport aircrafts include Airbus A310, Cessna

Citation V, Gulf Stream IV, Embraer Phenom, CASA and Harbin Y-12.
In December 2009 the PAF received its first of four IL-78 aircraft which is capable
of aerial refueling as well as transporting cargo. Aerial refueling capability was
first demonstrated during the High Mark 2010 exercise on 6 April, 2010 when two
of the PAF’s Mirage III fighters were simultaneously refueled in the air by
the IL-78. Aerial refueling capability will enable Pakistan to strike deep inside the
enemy territory and increase the endurance of its fleet of jet fighters. IL-78
aircraft is equipped with three-point Russian UPAZ refueling equipment. Fuel
tanks are fitted in cargo hold for aerial refueling role which can be removed for
transport role.
PAF includes a good variety of Helicopters armed with state of the art avionics for
Search and Rescue (SAR) role. These helicopters include Russian Mi-17 and
locally produced Alouette III helicopters.
Acquisition of drone capability ranks higher in the priority list of Pakistani
Government. Each and every individual in Pakistan is aware of the word
“Drone”. PAF has been working since last 3 years to gain this
capability indigenously and from international suppliers. PAF has successfully
added locally manufactured SATUMA Jasoos II and Italian made SELEX Galileo
Falco Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to its inventory. A small scale assembling facility
for Falco UAV has also been established at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC),
Kamra. The primary role of these vehicles is Tactical Reconnaissance, Training
and Surveillance. A huge effort is being made to develop or purchase strike
capable drone aircrafts. Burraq is the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle under
development by PAF and NESCOM which will be armed with Laser Guided Missiles
and Laser Designator.
IAF Capability
Indian Air Force uses IL-78 aircrafts for aerial refueling which allows IAF fighters
to remain airborne for longer periods, hence enhancing their effective range.
Aerial refueling also allows aircrafts to take-off with greater payload (by carrying
less fuel during take-off). The IAF currently operates 6 Ilyushin IL-78MKIs for
aerial refueling roles.
Transport aircraft are typically used to deliver troops, weapons, supplies and
other military equipment to the IAF field of operations. The IAF currently operates
different types of transport aircrafts for different roles. The major transport
aircraft in IAF fleet remains IL-76 which is used for strategic or heavy lift
operations in military transport roles. Ilyushin IL-76 aircrafts are planned to be
replaced by mighty C-17 Globemaster aircrafts. IAF operates Antonov An-32 in
bombing roles and Para-dropping operations. Indian Air Force has also inducted
one C130J Super Hercules transport aircraft from USA recently.
IAF maintains a fleet of helicopters to support ground troops by providing air
cover and by transporting men and essential commodities across the battlefield.
The primary helicopter in IAF use is HAL Dhruv which serves in transport and
utility roles. HAL Chetak is another light utility helicopter used primarily for

training, rescue and transport roles in the IAF. Other light and medium utility role
helicopters flown by IAF include HAL Cheetah, Mi-8, Mi-17, Mi-26 and Mi-35 used
in transport roles and search and rescue missions. IAF has ordered 80 Mi-17V-5s
to replace and augment its existing fleet of Mi-8s and Mi-17s, with an order for
59 additional helicopters to follow soon.
IAF currently uses the IAI Searcher and IAI Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for
reconnaissance and surveillance purposes. The IAI Harpy serves as an
Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) which is designed to attack radar
systems. The IAF also operates the DRDO Lakshya which serves as realistic
towed aerial sub-targets for live fire training.
Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force have shown great interest to boost their
drone capability in recent past. New battle lines are being drawn for a spy drone
versus spy drone face-off between India and Pakistan. Even as Islamabad
continues to badger Washington to give it armed drones like `Predators’,
New Delhi is quietly working towards bolstering its fleet of reconnaissance and
`killer’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). While India is currently way
ahead of Pakistan in the drone race, armed UAVs in the hands of Pakistan could
change the ballgame altogether.
Training and Exercises
PAF Capability
Superior weaponry by itself cannot amount for much without a high standard of
training. PAF has always laid great emphasis on this aspect and to a large extent
PAF’s excellent track record despite severe limitations can be explained
because of this approach. With the increasing sophistication of modern fleet of
combat planes, sensors and weapon systems, advanced training aids and
modern training techniques have become essential. A substantial investment has
been made and further planned in this field in the shape of simulators, some that
have been inducted and a number of them are in the process of being procured.
Sensors that help in realistic air combat training are included in the prioritized
list. The standard of training maintained in the PAF is recognized all over the
world. It is this trustworthy repute that today the Pakistan Air Force has the credit
of providing initial and specialized training to the personnel of over thirty allied
PAF operates numerous aircrafts for primary, basic, intermediate fighter
conversion and operational training. These aircrafts include locally assembled
MFI-17 Mushshak and MFI-395 Super Mushshak, Chinese made K-8, FT-5 and FT-6
and American made T-37. Huge effort and investment has been made to procure
and install aircraft simulators and emergency simulation systems for efficient on
ground training of pilots for handling complex situations and emergencies in air.
Training of ground crew and maintenance personnel has also been revitalized in
few recent years through national and international technical training programs.
PAF conducts various national level exercises to assay its professional skills and

capabilities. These exercises involve various practices including air to land

targeting with missiles and bombs on firing ranges. High Mark exercises were
conducted in 2010 with participation of drone planes and JF-17 Thunder aircrafts.
The exercises also involved army and naval contingents to show an integrated
approach to deal with any eventuality in case of war. PAF conducted Saffron
Bandit exercise to train the aviation force against extremism.
PAF also participates in various international exercises with allied countries. PAF
F-16s frequently participate in combined exercise of Pakistan ad Turkey code
named “Anatolian Eagle”. PAF also conducts a joint air power
employment exercise with Royal Saudi Air Force in which air operations are being
executed in near realistic environment. Recently PAF F-16s traveled across
Atlantic to participate in one of the most reputed international exercises named
“Red Flag”. These exercises give PAF pilots and technicians
international exposure and hone their combat skills.
IAF Capability
Indian Air Force operates a combination of aircrafts for pilot training. The HAL
HPT-32 Deepak is IAF’s basic flight training aircraft for cadets. The HPT32 was grounded in July 2009 following a crash that killed two senior flight
instructors, but was revived in May 2010 and is to be fitted with a parachute
recovery system (PRS) to enhance survivability during an emergency in the air
and to bring the trainer down safely. The HPT-32 is to be phased out soon. HAL
HJT-16 Kiran mk.I is used for intermediate flight training of cadets, while the HJT16 Kiran mk.II provides advanced flight and weapons training. Kiran will be
replaced by the HAL HJT-36 Sitara. The BAE Hawk Mk 132 serves as an advanced
jet trainer in the IAF and is progressively replacing the Kiran Mk.II.
IAF practices its fire power and combat skills in various international exercises
with many countries across the globe. These exercises give IAF pilots an
excellent chance to demonstrate their air combat skills and learn a lot more from
other pilots. Exercise “Cope India” is carried out regularly with
USAF pilots which gives IAF pilots a great chance to assess and modify their
combat skills. IAF also participates in “Red Flag” which is an
international experience with participation of many air forces in the world. IAF
pilots also get varying terrain experiences from mountains to deserts in different
international exercises with Oman, UK, Israel, South Africa and France.
Showcasing its precision strike capabilities during day and night, Indian Air Force
carried out a massive fire power blitzkrieg using its frontline aircraft such as SU30 MKI, Mirage-2000, MIG 27 and MIG 29, at the Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan.
Indian Air Force (IAF) aircrafts also carried out a local fire power demonstration
blasting away targets by day, dusk and night in exercise, “Vayu Shakti2010”, at Pokharan in Gujarat state.
The Indians deserve credit for developing the tactics and training programs
required to fully employ their advanced aircraft. IAF carried out various
international and local exercises over varying terrains to provide valuable
training to its pilots in few recent years. Today IAF pilots are very well trained for
any kind of air combat against any possible threats.

“Great pilots are made not born…A man may possess good
eyesight, sensitive hands and perfect coordination, but the end product is only
fashioned by steady coaching, much practice and experience.
– Air Vice Marshal J.E. Johnson, RAF
To begin a comparison of the two countries’ fighter pilots’
capabilities is not an easy task. While it is quite common for a defence analyst to
compare air forces based on the quantity and quality of weapons systems, it is
very rare to find an objective study of pilot capabilities. In fact, most analyses
quantify combat capability as a product of numerous factors, such as aircraft,
logistics, maintenance, munitions, etc. But the human factor (pilot ability,
training, and tactics) is rarely included because its measurement is very
subjective and its impact on the equation so little understood. Few will argue,
however, that differences in pilot capability do exist, and some aspects of the
human factor should be included in the equation if we are to achieve accurate
comparisons in combat capability.
There seems to be a general consensus of opinion today that in a comparison of
strength between the Indian and Pakistani air forces, the Indian advantage in
numbers is counterbalanced by the Pakistani advantage in personnel, training,
and tactics. Since India has been successful in narrowing the technology gap,
which Pakistan possessed over India for three decades from the early 1960s to
the late 1980s, some Pakistani defence policymakers have put even more
emphasis on the perceived Pakistani advantage in personnel. In fact, some would
argue that the Pakistani fighter pilot, his training, and his tactics are so superior
that even though the Indians have now caught up in technology, the Pakistan Air
Force still has an overall edge in combat capability as long as the quantitative
edge does not proceed above 3:1.
India and Pakistan are the two peace loving nations who had numerous armed
conflicts, border skirmishes and military standoffs against each other. The arms
fanaticism from both nations is evident from the allocated amount of defence
budget every year. In my opinion, possibilities of a full scale armed conflict
between India and Pakistan are very meager. Any such eventuality will bring both
countries at the brink of a nuclear war. IAF and PAF can sustain conventional war
for duration of a few weeks owing to limited logistic reserves and spares. None of
the air forces would be able to achieve a complete air supremacy over the other.
Indian Air Force has always enjoyed numerical superiority over Pakistan Air Force
since independence. IAF has also maintained a clear technological edge over PAF
since last two decades primarily because of military sanctions imposed on
Pakistan. PAF has been able to narrow down the technological gap in few recent
years while keeping the minimum level of deterrence with IAF smartly and
efficiently. IAF’s superiority in technology and number is effectively
counter balanced by sound professionalism and diligence of PAF crew. It is
manifestation of great will and valor of PAF air crew that it is ready to stand firm

against a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) capable adversary. Today PAF is on the
edge of finishing the yawning technological gap by inducting modern state of the
art weaponry to its fleet. IAF has provided extensive training to its pilots to
effectively employ BVRs by participating in various international exercises. It is
the right time for PAF to understand the likely changes of the future combat
scenario and develop tactics which can ensure effective utilization of PAF BVR
capability. India has got a well established space program assisting in military
operations. Pakistan needs to boost up its space research and development and
its role in network centric warfare. Efficient ballistic missile defense program is
another area to ponder by Pakistani government.
IAF on the other hand needs to completely revitalize its air defense sensor
network to close any possible gaps for the intruders. IAF air defense command
and control system is also required to be centralized and integrated. The
quantity of Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircrafts held in
the inventory of IAF are not enough for providing round the clock defense of
aerial frontiers. Indian Air Force needs to induct a few more such aircrafts in its
fleet to provide round the clock vigil across all frontiers.