Operation swift retort & balance of aerial supremacy | by Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan

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Operation swift retort & balance of aerial supremacy


MOST recently, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) celebrated the second anniversary of Operation Swift Retort (OST) at Air Headquarters (AHQ). The Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the entire nation & saluted Armed Forces to response to India’s illegal, reckless military adventure of air strikes against Pakistan.

He added that as a proud & confident nation, we responded with determined resolve at a time & place of our choosing. He also welcomed restoration of the ceasefire along the LOC.

In his speech during the ceremony, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Mujahid Anwar Khan assured to thwart any misadventure by the enemy and was ready to respond with full force as per the aspirations of the nation.

He asserted that desire for peace must not be misunderstood and in case of any misadventure, our response would be swift, resolute and unwavering.

The Chief projected valuable contributions of the PAF on February 27, 2019 which vividly reflected professional excellence and valour.

The operation was a response to India’s slipshod ‘surgical strike’ in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wherein the Indian Air Force managed to ‘kill’ only a few trees.

During the Indian aerial strike Pakistan piled a long list of mishaps for its opponent.

On that list were two Indian jets, a MiG-21 Bison and a SU-30, who were shot down after they attempted to intrude into Pakistan’s airspace.

Most recently, Pakistan successfully launched the fourth generation fighter jet programs and completed them mainly Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder.

Pakistan, in strategic defense cooperation with China, successfully launched the most advanced war-fighter jet in Pakistan arsenal.

The Pakistan’s star-fighter, JF-17 Thunder Block II was rated equal to F-16 in its diversified capabilities of aerial warfare and weapon carrying capacity.

According to regional experts, JF-17 Block-II operational altitude is quite higher and far superior ship busting capabilities due to the munitions it carries. It has C-802 anti-ship cruise missile.

Furthermore, there are approximately 65 F-16’s in Pakistan Air Force’s service, of which only 18 are the modern Indian F-16 C while the other entire are the old F-16 a variants but inclusion of JF-Thunder Block-III would be at par to it in the days to come.

It seems that the JF-17 Block III has changed the dynamics of aerial supremacy in the region and beyond which has further consolidated Pakistan’s Air Force capabilities. It is indeed superior to even F-16 C.

According to reliable sources the JF Thunder Block III version of the JF-17 is equipped with the RD-93MA or Chinese WS-13 engine, while its previous version had a Chinese license-built Klimov RD-93MA turbofan engine.

It is smarter and faster with speed of Mach 2, almost 2470 km/h. The JF-17 Block-III’s has state-of-the art avionics.

It will have a helmet-mounted display (HMD) and possibly an internal infrared search and tracking (IRST) system.

The plane boasts a full glass cockpit and a new single panel multifunctional display. It may have British or Italian avionics and radars for the JF-17 development.

It may include Italian Galileo Avionica’s Grifo S7 the French Thomson-CSF’s RC400 and the British company SELEX Galileo’s Vixen 500E.

The PAF has certain plan to upgrade fifty JF-17s from 2013 onwards, at a cost of up to US$1.36 billion.

The RC-400 radar, MICA AAMs, and several air-to-surface weapons are believed to be in the contract.

The PAF also held talks with South Africa for the supply of Denel A-darter AAMs.

Advantages of integrating an AESA radar not only allows the JF-17 Block-III to detect targets at far longer ranges, and to track and lock onto more targets simultaneously, it is also less prone to jamming and leaves a far lower radar signature meaning it is both more reliable and makes the fighter more difficult to detect.

It has state of the art Chinese electronic warfare systems, and a radar cross-section reducing profile, a combination of modern avionics, and AESA radar and PL-15 missiles will make the JF-17 Block 3 an extremely lethal fighter for beyond visual range combat considerably more capable than any fighter currently in Pakistani service including the F-16 C.

It hopes that JF-17 Block III version will further strengthen Pakistan tactical and operational capabilities in the future.

Pakistan has entered the race of making the 5th generation jets currently only being produced by the US, Russia, and China.

Pakistan’s ambitious and visionary Project Azm includes the design and development of multiple innovative aviation projects, including the development of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and other projects which will transform the Pakistan Air Force orientation in the days to come.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has now achieved offensive and defensive superiority after the induction of 14 new JF-17 Thunder Block-III fighter jets. It is crucial for Pakistan’s defensive strategy.

Time and again the leadership of Pakistan expressed its concerns over the Modi government’s plans for surgical strikes and constant arms race in the region.

Induction of JF-17 Thunder Block-III is a strategic move to balance the Indian Air Force (IAF), which received five French Rafale fighter jets in July 2020.

Pakistan designed and implemented a comprehensive strategy to response to the Indian limited War-fighting Strategy (IWFS) based on the Offensive-Defense Theory (ODT).

The PAF started air combat exercises “High Mark”, which highlighted its response with army maneuvers to defend against cross-border aerial strikes in 2019.

On its part, the PAF has been conducting High Mark every five years involving F-16, JF-17, and Mirage-3 fighters.

Besides, the Pakistan Army conducted a series of military exercises codenamed Azm-e-Nau to formalize and operationalize a conventional response.

These exercises introduced a ‘new concept of war-fighting’, having improved troops’ mobilization time and increased inter-services coordination.

India has never stopped its air force punch with military purchases from technologically advanced nations, Pakistan relies more on its indigenous production.

Surprisingly, the government of India has inked a deal worth Rs.48,000 crores to procure additional 83 India-made Tejas light combat aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

The deal considered to be the biggest ever in the indigenous military aviation sector.

Moreover, an order of 40 Tejas aircrafts was floated, completing the initial order of 123 HAL made fighter jets.

Tejas is a single engine multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft that will replace the ageing Soviet-era MiG-21 Bison jets and boost IAF’s combat prowess.

On the contrary, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has been developing state-of-the-art fighter jets JF-17 Thunders Block-1 to III indigenously with the support of Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation of China for a decade.

These aircraft are built mainly to meet the needs of PAF and will replace its current ageing fleet.

Balance of aerial supremacy must be protected and upgraded to safeguard national vested interests.

Moreover, hybrid warfare stimulates implementation of a comprehensive national defence policy as soon as possible.
—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics Member Board of Experts, CGSS.

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