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Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is one of the strongest air forces in the world. As per the 2021 report released by the International Institute of Strategic Institute (IISS), the PAF is based on a team of more than 70,000 highly trained active-duty personnel. It also has at least 970 operational aircraft ensuring the aerial defence of Pakistan.
Before taking a detailed look at Pakistani fighter jets, let’s explore what makes the defence mechanism of these jets so robust.
Features of a Fighter Plane
Designed specifically for air-to-air combat, fighter planes used by the Pakistan Air Force comprise an aerodynamic design, cutting-edge features and advanced weaponry. These machines can effectively strike distant targets in the air and on the ground and have the capability to easily go over 2000 kilometres per hour when flying at full speed, breaking the sound barrier.
List of Pakistani Fighter Jets Currently in Service
Here’s the list of military aircraft that are currently in use by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)
- General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
- CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder
- Dassault Mirage III
- Dassault Mirage 5
- Chengdu F-7P/PG (Pakistan F-7)
- J-10C Fighter Jets
Now let’s take a look at the specification of these PAF fighter jets that distinguish them from each other.
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
Based on a single engine, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a supersonic multirole fighter plane. This super-fast machine – with a top speed of around 2,414 kilometres per hour – is actually manufactured by a US-based company named General Dynamics.
Key features of F-16 military aircraft include a frameless bubble canopy, a side-mounted control stick, an agile flight control system and up to eleven locations for mounting weapons along with other mission equipment. The official name of the F-16 aircraft is Fighting Falcon.
CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder
Jointly developed by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC), JF-17 Thunder is a single-engine, lightweight aircraft that can be used for ground attack, aircraft interception and aerial reconnaissance.
These PAF fighter jets features a cockpit with an acrylic canopy, providing the pilot with an all-around field of view, hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls and a zero-zero ejection seat. Talking about weaponry specifications of JF-17 Thunder, it is worth noting that this fighter plane has the capacity to carry 3,629 kg of payload when airborne.
Dassault Mirage III
Dassault Mirage III is one of the most powerful Pakistani fighter jets. It belongs to a family of single-seat, single-engine, lightweight aircraft. This military aircraft is produced and exported by Dassault Aviation – a French company.
Dassault Mirage III used by the Pakistan Air Force features a bubble canopy, for better viewing and targeting. It is equipped with a high-tech flight control system along with Global Position System for providing adequate assistance to the pilots. This aircraft is capable of carrying up to 4000 kg of the payload during flights.
Dassault Mirage 5
Recognized as a supersonic aircraft, Dassault Mirage 5 is an updated version of the Dassault Mirage III. Both of these fighter jets have quite a similar design. This aircraft plays a very important role in the fleet of fighter planes of the Pakistan Air Force since it is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Mirage 5 aircraft can fly at a maximum speed of around 2,350 kilometres per hour.
With a combat range of 1,250 kilometres, the cockpit of these PAF fighter jets has a twin-seater pilot tube in the form of a bubble canopy, providing better visibility to the pilot. Dassault Mirage 5 has more fuel storage capacity than Mirage III military aircraft in Pakistan. A maximum war load of 4000 kg can be attached to this fighter plane.
Chengdu F-7P/PG, popularly known as Pakistan F-7 in our country, is a military aircraft developed by Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC). Its design has been inspired by MiG-21 Aircraft, which is a Russian Aircraft having a similar built. It is also a single-engine, lightweight aircraft with an effective avionic system.
Pakistan F-7 aircraft is equipped with a GEC-Marconi Avionics Head-Up Display and Weapon Aiming Computer (HUDWAC), bombing navigation and global positioning systems. Furthermore, this military aircraft in Pakistan has the capacity of carrying a payload of up to 2,000 kg.
J-10C Fighter Jets
The Chinese-built J-10C fighter jets are the latest addition to the Pakistan Air Force fleet.
This medium-weight aircraft is equipped with a bigger Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar compared to the JF-17 Block 3 planes. In addition, this multirole combat jet is suitable for all weather conditions.
Designed for air-to-air combat, the J-10C fighter planes also have the capability to feature fourth-generation missiles, including the short-range PL-10 and the beyond-visual-range PL-15.
Air Shows and Flypasts
Pakistan Air Force keeps on coming up with enchanting displays of air shows and flypasts. Almost all active Pakistani fighter jets participate in these events. Flown by highly trained pilots, these aircraft show incredible performance showing off their capabilities as well as entertaining people. Normally, flypasts and air shows are organised to commemorate patriotic occasions like Pakistan Resolution Day (23rd March), Defence Day (6th September) and Independence Day (14th August), which are also normally observed as national holidays in Pakistan.
Pakistan Air Force Museum, popularly known as PAF Museum, is one of the most popular museums in Karachi. It is a place where you can actually know the history of the Pakistan Air Force and get an up-close look at the equipment used by it to protect the airspace of Pakistan. A large number of aircraft, radars, and weapons are on display in the open-air facility surrounding the museum.
However, the main museum building features almost all of the major fighter planes of Pakistan that have been used by the Pakistan Air Force for the aerial defence of the country over the past seven decades. While visiting this museum in Karachi, you can know about the history of fighter jets used by armed forces around the world and take a look at their models.
So, have you ever been to PAF Museum or an air show or a flypast? How was it? Let us know about your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update (March 22, 2022):
New Batch of Chinese-Built Fighter Jets Inducted By PAF
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) recently held a ceremony in Islamabad to officially add the first batch of Chinese-built J-10C fighter jets to its fleet of aircraft. This high-profile event was attended by the officials of both countries.
Appreciating the recent purchase made by the PAF, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the Chinese-built fighter jets would play an important role in [protecting the country’s airspace] and rectifying a “security imbalance” situation building up in the region.
Update (Feb 24, 2022):
Collaboration of Turkey and Pakistan to Produce a Fifth-generation Fighter Plane
Pakistan and Turkey are jointly working on a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (TF-X), which is expected to be ready for its first flight in the next three years. Belonging to a new generation of fighter jets, it will be equipped with advanced defence and weaponry features, according to the details shared by the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) Temel Kotil while talking to a renowned Pakistani news TV channel.
While commenting on the development, Air Vice-Marshal Dr. Rizwan Riaz added that the two countries have also been involved in many other defence projects including the development of drone technology and the purchase of attack helicopters for the air force.
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