New Pakistan air chief hails F-16s' role in North Waziristan campaign

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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
 

Arslan

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Currently, F-16 is the most potent aircraft in PAF inventory. Its payload and A2G inventory becomes deadlier with target pods.
 

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Currently, F-16 is the most potent aircraft in PAF inventory. Its payload and A2G inventory becomes deadlier with target pods.
Any chance of increasing the number of F/16? I heard PAF in talks with Jordan for possible sale of F-16 to Pakistan did the deal go through?
 

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Any chance of increasing the number of F/16? I heard PAF in talks with Jordan for possible sale of F-16 to Pakistan did the deal go through?
PAF acquired 13 x F-16 ADF version from Jordan in 2014.
After that, USA intervened in the sale for more F-16's (probably 15) for PAF from Jordan so the sale didn't go through. There seem to be no chances for acquisition of more F-16's for PAF, whether new or used.
 

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PAF acquired 13 x F-16 ADF version from Jordan in 2014.
After that, USA intervened in the sale for more F-16's (probably 15) for PAF from Jordan so the sale didn't go through. There seem to be no chances for acquisition of more F-16's for PAF, whether new or used.
How many F-16 does Pakistan operate?
 

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45 x F-16 A/B Block 15 MLU
18 x F-16 C/D Block 52+
13 x F-16 A/B Block 15 ADF
Is the EF an option for Pakistan? I don't think PAF would find Su variants suitable though.