‘PAF can counter internal, external threats’

*Army chief says addition of F-16s to further enhance capability of aerial defence of Pakistan *PAF equipped with modern weaponry system, training capabilities chief

SARGODHA - Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has said that the Pakistan Air Force is equipped with modern weaponry system and training capabilities, as the air power has become more important in modern era for the aerial security.

He said this in his address at an impressive re-equipment ceremony of No19 multi role squadron of the Pakistan Air Force, held at the PAF Base here on Wednesday. General Sharif said that the PAF was striving for the professional excellence for being second to none as quoted by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The army chief said that PAF has always maintained highest state of preparedness and professional excellence. “PAF has repeatedly proven equal to the task even in the most difficult times and has measured up to the expectations of the nation in safeguarding the soil and aerial frontiers of Pakistan,” he said.

He extended congratulation to airmen, particularly to the gallant Sherdils of No19 squadron for attaining another milestone in the history of PAF. The army chief further assured for the continued collaboration between the Pakistan Army and the Air Force.

The army chief said that the addition of F-16s in the PAF have further enhanced capability of aerial defence of Pakistan. He also lauded the role played by Jordan in this regard and extended gratitude for help and assistance by the Jordanian government.

It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan has purchased a squadron of F-16 aircraft on very nominal price from Jordan. In his welcoming address, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt reiterated that aerial defenders were fully vigilant of the needs of air defence and was capable of countering any internal or external threats.

He said that PAF would come ahead to save the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan anywhere and at any cost. “It is PAF’s commitment to the nation that despite all odds, our resolve shall remain unshakable and along with our sister services we shall Insha Allah defend the territorial integrity of Pakistan against any aggression at any cost,” he said.

Being the first line of physical defence, Pakistan Air Force needs to continuously build up its capability for an even more assured aerial defence. A simple but elegant Squadron colour handing over ceremony was held when Airmen of No 19 Squadron led by its Officer Commanding Wing Commander Muhammad Naeem presented general salute to the chief guest.

After inspecting the smartly turned out contingent, General Raheel Sharif handed over the squadron colour from one pilot of No 19 OCU to the other young pilot of the No 19 MR Squadron. The handing of squadron colour marked a new era of No 19 Squadron from an Operational Conversion Unit to a Multi Role Squadron.

In line with PAF traditions, the outgoing weapon system F-7 P was escorted by a very close arrow formation of newly equipped three F-16 fighting falcons. This followed by an exhilarating and superb solo aerobatics by an F-16 flown by Wing Commander Syed Omer Shah.

General Sharif along with Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique inspected the cockpit of newly equipped No 19 MR Squadron F-16. No 19 Squadron was raised in 1958 at PAF Base Mauripur with 12 American origin F-86F Sabre Aircraft. In October, 1964 the squadron moved to Peshawar.

The squadron valiantly participated in 965 war, in which it had flown 730 hours in 571 sorties without losing a single aircraft or a pilot. During 1965 war, No 19 Squadron, apart from other victories, has the unrivalled distinction of carrying out the first successful close air support mission at Wagha, and famous air strike at Pathankot airfield. It also has the honour of having six Sitara-e-Jurat.

In 1990, squadron was equipped with Pakistan’s newly acquired Chinese F-7P interceptor aircraft and was converted into an Operational Conversion Unit in July 1991. Tahir Rafique has also commanded the squadron with the onerous responsibility of setting up the new conversion unit. The unit has strengthened the defence of motherland by graduating 652 fighter pilots till date.

The ceremony was attended by war veterans, former squadron commanders of No 19 Squadron, Defence secretary, high military officials of tri services and allied countries. The ceremony was also attended by a delegation of the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

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