- Apr 27, 2015
One of Pakistan's recently upgraded F-16Bs drops two 2,000 lb GBU-10s during an operation over North Waziristan. Source: Pakistan Air Force
The Pakistan Air Force's (PAF's) four F-16 squadrons are now involved in supporting the army's campaign against the Taliban in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).
Since the PAF started working closer with the army back in mid-2008 its F-16s have doubled in number and capabilities.
A squadron of Block 52 F-16s delivered in 2010 has been joined by two squadrons of F-16A/B Mid Life Update (MLU) aircraft upgraded by Turkish Aerospace Industries between 2012 and 2014. In 2014 the PAF also took delivery of another batch of F-16A/Bs from Jordan.
"ISR is the key to our joint operations with the army," new PAF Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman told IHS Jane's . "The days of relying on four-digit co-ordinates and HUMINT are gone."
But the advance in technologies is not solely down to the F-16s and the DB-110 reconnaissance pods delivered by the US government as an urgent operational requirement in January 2009.
"The [Lockheed Martin] C-130Bs we are operating, retrofitted with the [Star Safire III] FLIRS [forward looking infrared systems] are doing a great job. Not just for their ISR capabilities but to help us carry out precise targeting," said ACM Aman.
When operations started in 2008 the F-16s in inventory - which were acquired in the early-1980s - could only be used for daytime strikes, but this changed with the arrival of more capable aircraft, he added.
"The [Thomson-CSF] ATLIS-II pods were only good for day ops, but when we acquired the [Lockheed Martin] Sniper targeting pods there was a marked increase in our capabilities and we could strike these people day and night," added the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), who was promoted from Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations) on 19 March.
"We have put special focus on mapping the areas with the DB-110s. These pods have really helped us," he added. "Sniper used with GBU-10 or GBU-12 is now our standard fit."
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New Pakistan air chief hails F-16s' role in North Waziristan campaign - IHS Jane's 360