Putting Plans To The TestAlan Warnes article in Air
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Posted 22 February 2013 - 09:30 AM
Armed departure. An F-16 takes off from Mushaf with a full load of weapons in April 2010. Supporting the army in its ground war is now a primary objective of the PAF.
All photos author unless stated
Alan Warnes finds out how the Pakistan Air Force is supporting the army in its efforts to rid the country of militants
Not for the first time, Pakistan Air Force Base Kamra-Minhas was attacked by Islamic militants on August 16. Armed with rocket- propelled grenades and automatic weapons, a gang entered the base and managed to damage a Saab Erieye radar aircraft in this latest attack. Nine militants and two Pakistan soldiers were killed in an exchange which lasted several hours. Others were wounded, including the base commander, Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operation against the attackers.
Minhas was subjected to similar attacks in 2007 and 2009, but despite a considerable increase in security around the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base and the adjoining aerospace complex, militants still got in to wreak yet more havoc.
On May 22, 2011, Pakistan Naval Station Mehran, just outside Karachi, was also attacked and two P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft blown up, with another one damaged.
Incensed by the PAF's operations against the 'miscreants' — as military personnel refer to them —the Taliban decided to take revenge. The battle against these fighters has escalated to new levels in recent years as the Pakistan Air Force supports its army colleagues on the ground.
Bloody Battles, High Casualty Rates
While much of the world is focused through the media on the deaths of Western troops in Afghanistan, across the border in Pakistan, battles with foreign militia have killed thousands of Pakistan's troops. The Taliban and its allies have killed 4,704 soldiers and police and 14,674 civilians since 2003, according to figures held by the South Asia Terrorism Portal. Since 2004, there have been regular bloody battles, often hand-to-hand, between the two sides as militants tried to exert their influence further east. In the early days of this conflict, the Pakistan Army fought an enemy who knew the local terrain well and could counter-attack from strategic hideouts. The situation was exacerbated by a lack of technological knowhow and inevitably thousands of army personnel were killed, a fate referred to as 'martyred' within the region.
For four years from 2004, the PAF provided air support on an occasional basis, mainly in South Waziristan, on request from the army. AH-1F Cobras and Bell 412s provided some firepower, but invariably it was reactive fire support rather than proactive. At that time, the RAF's close air support (CAS) tactics stemmed from the 1971 war with India, when it fought a uniformed army in known battlefields. Those procedures had become outdated, cumbersome and inflexible — they needed to be modernised if the air force was to succeed in fighting this relatively new enemy. With the army desperate for CAS cover from their PAF counterparts, something needed to be done.
Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, the recently retired PAF's Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), cast his mind back to December 2007 to highlight the problem the army faced. As the newly-appointed Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Ops) at the time, he was involved with ongoing operations in South Waziristan: "I remember getting a call from the army's DGMO (Director General Military Ops), General Pasha, at around 4am telling me that Fort Laddha was under intense attack by a large lashkar [group of militants]. The fort was surrounded and partly occupied; it was a desperate time.
"We didn't have a night capability, so we waited for daylight. However, I asked the general where the people were located, how they got there, vehicle locations — all the detail I needed."
Over the phone the general described the fort and the enemy's location. ACM Suleman gave the precise details to the F-16 case commander with one important proviso — no fratricide or collateral damage at any cost.
In the morning Suleman and Pasha both checked out Google Earth so they could discuss over the phone the layout of the terrain and the enemy positions. No up-to- date mapping of the region was to hand so Google Earth provided the best detail available. Once the enemy positions near Fort Laddha had been clarified, F-16s departed their base and headed to the area. Around five minutes later the pilots flew their jets at low altitude over the fort to identify the vehicles and the main body of the lashkar before dropping their bombs. The startled militia rushed from the fort and were attacked. This marked the first co-ordinated air strike by the PAF and showed that procedures could work but would need further development. The army and PAF set about honing their inter-service relationship at the Joint Services Headquarters (JSHQ) at Rawalpindi.
Prior to ACM Qamar Suleman taking over as CAS in March 2009, he had served as DCAS (Ops) for two years. Having worked closely with the army, he knew his priority as CAS should be to foster closer working links - until then the two services' relationship was merely cordial. Another task was to train the PAF in joint operations with its sister service. Finally, ACM Suleman sought to modernise the standard operating procedures (SOPs) with the army in case of any strike from a neighbouring country.
Putting Plans to the Test
On August 6, 2008, JSHQ had the opportunity to test the joint capabilities and the new SOPs when the army encountered problems in Bajour in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Troops were surrounded by militants, and were on the verge of being overrun, when the PAF was called in to provide close air support — dropping bombs wherever required and creating non-kinetic effects too, such as low-level sonic booms. The exhausted troops emerged from their positions to continue the fight. However, the same old problems caused by a lack of reconnaissance, or recce capability, continued to occur in the Bajour campaign, which effectively lasted until October 2008. Google Earth was a regular source of intelligence.
As ACM Suleman explained to the author: "We had recce- configured Mirages but it was the old equipment, which included the LORAP [long-range aerial photography] pod and would often take 24 hours to prepare one sheet of imagery. It wasn't acceptable in a war that moved as quickly as this."
So the US Government decided to expedite the pace of delivery of Goodrich DB-110 reconnaissance systems already ordered by the PAF, which eventually arrived in January 2009. The air force was then able to escalate operations in its fight against the militants.
For six months after the Bajour campaign, the PAF provided support to the army in many of the tribal 'agencies' (regions), but had left Swat alone. Peace talks had started at Mingora, the largest town in the Swat valley, between the Pakistan Government and the Taliban in early February 2009. By the end of the month a shaky peace agreement known as the Malakand Accord was agreed but the Pakistan Government had not signed up to the imposition of sharia law in the region. Once the agreement had been made, the Taliban agreed it would cease all violence but the deal was criticised by many, including the United States and other Western allies, because it would in effect provide a safe haven for terrorists.
All the time the talks were continuing, the Taliban were pushing into regions closer to Islamabad. Local and international media headlines spread alarm as they declared the Taliban were 60-70 miles (100-113km) from Pakistan's capital. However, reports omitted to say "as the crow flies" — with such inhospitable terrain between the two locations it would take the Taliban forces at least ten hours to get there.
The Malakand Accord covered Buner, Chitral, Dir, Kohistan, Malakand, Shangla and Swat. The man heading the negotiations, Sufi Mohammed, was the leader of the radical pro-Taliban Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e¬Shariat-e-Mohammed (TNSM, or movement for the enforcement of Mohammed's law). He is said to have led more than 10,000 fighters into Pakistan from Afghanistan when the US air strikes started in 2001. Sufi is the father-in-law of Mullah Fazlullah, the Swat Taliban leader, held responsible by the Pakistan Government for the murder of many policemen, civilians and military personnel as well as the exodus of more than 500,000 of the 1.5 million residents of Swat since 2007.
1. A pair of Pakistan Air Force F-16As assigned to No.11 'Arrows' Squadron.
2. An F-16A armed with Mk82s pulls out of its shelter.
After the deal was signed the Taliban shut down or destroyed all girls' schools and women were forbidden to appear in public without their husbands or male relatives. However, the broadcasting of a video of a woman being flogged by black-turbaned Taliban in Swat, allegedly because she ventured out without a male relative sent shockwaves throughout Pakistan. It was a major setback for the Taliban in the propaganda war and the peace deal broke down.
After the peace treaty was called off in late April 2009, a high-level meeting took place at GHQ between the chiefs of Pakistan's army and air force which supported the resumption of military action, backed by the government. Fortunately, PAF F-16s had already mapped the whole of the Swat and FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) regions using the new DB-110 recce system during the two months of peace. And new Falco UAVs, which had been delivered the previous year, were also monitoring the situation on the ground.
It was agreed the PAF would 'soften up the ground' in Swat for an advance by the army. On May 7, 2009 the PAF launched Operation Burk (Arabic for lightning) against ammunition dumps, hideouts, training areas, communication equipment and exit routes to prevent the Taliban forces from escaping. Hundreds of Taliban were believed to be using large hotels in Malam Jabba, a major ski-resort for Pakistanis and a huge tourist attraction. They had forced local residents and workers to occupy the facilities.
On the first day of the PAF's air campaign, the PTDC and adjacent Afridi hotels and the 11 Corp Rest House were all targeted along with four other large buildings.
F-16s equipped with the French-built ATLIS (automatic tracking and laser integration system) employed laser-guided bombs on the targets which, according to PAF estimates, killed around 1,000 militants. Two helicopter landing zones (HLZs) had also been selected in the Peochar Valley, where helicopters offloaded 1,500 troops.
For two days PAF bombs targeted the militants in a bid to 'soften them up' before troops moved in to reclaim the territory. Before the helicopters could fly into the HLZs, the area was again photographed by PAF DB-110-equipped F-16s. From the imagery, several isolated structures were identified that could have housed militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades. These were destroyed before the helicopters were cleared into the HLZs. ACM Suleman clarified: "These buildings didn't just collapse, they exploded — proof enough there were weapons caches and ammunition inside."
The helicopters went in on May 9, marking the beginning of the army's Rah-e-Raast ('Righteous Path') operation, landing in difficult terrain around 8,000ft (2,438m) above sea level. Everything was cleared within the range of the militants' RPGs, around 3,000ft (900m) from the HLZ, while PAF F-16s provided combat air patrol (CAP) overhead. On the ground embedded with the army were PAF JTACS (joint terminal air controllers) in case more F-16s strikes were called for.
Opposition was so ferocious it took army commandos three days to move out, but once they advanced it was a swift and successful campaign; the militants simply could not counter the overwhelming effect of the PAF airpower.
During the bombing, collateral damage was uppermost in everyone's minds. The only sorties involving strikes in a built-up area were at Sultan Waas, another large militant stronghold. The Frontier Corps led by Major General Tariq (now commander of an elite corps) requested assistance in clearing the area. Once assurances were given by five different organisations — GHQ, 11 Corps (their area of the control), military intelligence, the Area District Civil Officer (DCO) and Area District Police Officer (DPO) — that there were no civilians in the locality, in came the bombs. Over 100 were dropped on approximately 20 targets, destroying the entire terrorist set-up in an operation completed within two hours. By the end of July 2009, the PAF air campaign in Swat had come to an end with army losses kept to a minimum.
In the centre of Mingora, the town's Green Square had become known as 'Bloody Square' ('Khooni Square') where people murdered by the Taliban had been left to hang. The army was tasked to clear the site. The army's General Kayani and the air force's CAS visited the town. "I found it very eerie... there were still clothes on the line, stuff laying around, but no people and no birds, cats or stray dogs... All the shops were locked," said ACM Suleman.
In the aftermath of the strikes, the PAF built two water filtration plants at Mingora and set up two relief camps at Mardan. Nine hundred families moved into the relief camps, looked after by PAF personnel from the academy at Risalpur.
Lightning 2 (Burk 2)
From August until October 2009 the PAF focused its bombing campaign in other agencies like Lower Dir, but at the same time it was preparing for an operation supporting the army in South Waziristan Agency (SWA). The increasing number of bomb attacks on Pakistan's cities was by now reaching crisis point and required action. Intelligence showed that most of the attacks were being planned from South Waziristan, so the military objective was to shut the militant networks down.
On October 11, 2009 the army pinpointed 110 targets, eventually rising to 150, as part of its Operation Rah-e-Nijat ('Path to Salvation') which would commence on October 17. The South Waziristan operation would be tricky as there were thousands of militants occupying strategic locations. It was those concentrations that would be targeted.
ACM Suleman explained: "We photographed the entire South Waziristan region; we found militants were waiting for the army.
"They set up pickets and bunkers in the mountain sides in readiness for the troops. We saw all this when we checked the area using DB-110s. It meant that when the army moved in they found little resistance. In previous campaigns the army had launched ops in SWA but suffered high casualties — that didn't happen this time. In the end we struck 220 targets in the six-day window."
Under Operation Lightning 2 (Burk 2) the PAF adopted a 'ridgeline approach' whereby the high ground overlooking army positions was bombed. This allowed the army to move along the ridgelines without being attacked from above — a common problem that could lead to the loss of many personnel.
The PAF was aware that anti-insurgency operations would have to become part of operational doctrine, so plans were put in place to ensure that all fighter squadrons worked on their air-to-ground skills, culminating in a large anti- insurgency exercise. This led to a series of 'Saffron Bandit' exercises in August 2009 in which all fighter units deployed to a designated base.
Generally two units deployed for three weeks at a time over a six-month period until February 2010, by which time every squadron had attended the course. Each squadron worked with the combat commanders school (CCS) on air-to-ground doctrine, using the PAF's air-to-ground bombing range where a mock 'terrorist village' had been built. Pilots would gain the opportunity to experience the intensity of this kind of conflict and the necessary tactics to tackle such scenarios.
At the same time the army started its own rotation of units to the firing range to work with the PAF as both services sought to bolster their close air support training. The US Air Force even sent some its JTACs to provide expertise and input.
Within weeks of Saffron Bandit ending, the PAF took the chance to test everyone's resolve and commitment by launching Exercise High Mark 2010 on March 15. This two- month 'mother of all exercises' wasn't just to test the counter-insurgency lessons, but also to see how the PAF would react to a threat from a neighbouring state. It tested most bases and all trades— pilots, maintenance personnel, engineers, logistics, administrators, air traffic, etc. During the first ten days the PAF flew as many sorties as it usually does in three months of ops, with everyone working to their limits.
1. An F-16B sits in the shelter fitted with an ATLIS pod and GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. The pod can designate targets with its laser.
2. An F-16B loaded with GBU-12 laser-guided bombs heads out for a training mission.
3. Army personnel train on the PAF's air-to¬ground bombing range. Here, troops have cleared 'militants' from a mock village after F-16s provided close air support.
4. A Taliban militant pushes a wheelbarrow back to a cave on the Buner pass in the southern Swat. Pakistan Air Force 5 An aircrewman operates the Star Safire III and Brite Star systems on a C-130, while another officer works alongside.
6. F-16 pilots all practise high-angle steep-dive strikes in the PAF's huge air-to-ground range.
1. Targeting a cave used by the Taliban in the Swat district of Pakistan. Photo by Pakistan Air Force
2. Target pod image of the same cave after the strike. Photo by Pakistan Air Force
3. Targeting a road in the Buner valley in the Swat district of Pakistan. Photo by Pakistan Air Force
4. Target pod image of the same road after the strike. Photo by Pakistan Air Force
For the PAF, 2010 was remarkable for its large number of exercises: Saffron Bandit; High Mark, which included a motorway landing by two fighter aircraft; Red Flag (at Nellis AFB, Nevada in the United States); Bright Star (Egypt); Anatolian Eagle (Turkey); and the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course (at Al Dhafra AB, UAE). Unbelievably, in a year when the PAF flew more than 90,000 hours (around 10% more than usual), there were no accidents.
In early 2009, ACM Suleman had come up with an idea to install a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system on one of the PAF's C-130B Hercules transport aircraft which could remain
airborne for up to eight hours.
He recalls: "My engineers told me we could put it on the side door, but I said it would only record from one side of the aircraft if we did! I suggested we put it under the chin, which meant the bulkhead would have to be cut.
"We discussed it with the aircraft manufacturer but were quoted around $10 million and it would take eight to nine months. We could not afford to send a transport aircraft away for that long, and where would we get the money from?"
Instead PAF engineers did the work and within a couple of months there was a system on board with two large flat screens in the passenger area, so personnel could seethe live video. One screen displays a map of the area that the aircraft was flying over and the other shows the FLIR video, watched by army intelligence officers. When the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, saw the system working during a sortie in August 2009 he was impressed, and by October 2009, at the start of Operation Rah-e-Nijat, the FLIR Hercules was operational.
The success of the Pakistan Army in defeating the militants was by now moving at a faster pace, largely due to the PAF's bombing campaign. Combined ops followed a familiar routine - strike aircraft softened up the enemy and attack helicopters engaged any remaining targetsbefore the troops moved in.
F-16s would normally operate at 10,000-18,000ft (3,048- 5,486m) and dive-bomb in; sometimes if they got clearance they would get down to 8,000ft (2,438m). Mirages, when used, would go down lower. By December 2009, the bombing campaigns had all but ended.
Today, the PAF continues to support army personnel whenever required as it attempts to rid Pakistan of the people who co-ordinate bomb attacks on innocent civilians in the country. With recent deliveries of new equipment, joint operations can now be undertaken 24 hours a day. This represents another huge leap in capability as the PAF continues to revolutionise its 0 war-fighting procedures.
1. Introduction of the DB-110 sensor into PAF service has meant the reconnaissance variant of the Mirage is all but redundant.
With tough terrain of the tribal areas, army personnel were being slaughtered as they attempted to eliminate militants who had lived in the region for years. They knew all the high ground and ridgelines, which allowed them to look down on the troops as they approached - the soldiers were 'sitting ducks'.
To counter this threat the PAF required a platform capable of loitering overhead the area of operation for long periods to pinpoint enemy locations. In early 2009, the PAF set about modernising a C-130B with a FUR Systems Star Safire Ill imaging system to pinpoint areas of interest on the ground and then zoom-in. From around 18,000ft (5,486m) the operator can recognise an individual's features - it is an impressive tool. Within six months the PAF was also installing a Brite Star designator to allow the Hercules to lase bombs onto targets for strike aircraft. During Operation Lightning II (which commenced on October 11, 2009) PAF FLIR-equipped transport aircraft were airborne almost 24 hours a day supporting army ops. In the rear of these aircraft are two large flat-screens, one showing a moving map as photographed by the DB-110 and the other showing the FL1R imagery being worked by the operator where to look. It became a very useful tool - essentially the army had its own eyes in the sky. There are plans to data-link the imagery down to a ground station; but while telemetry trials have proved it can be done, the system will need upgrading.
The author flew with 'Stranger 12' over the Swatnavigator/FL1R operator in the cockpit. Army personnel can watch the areas of interest and describe via radio to troops on the ground what they are looking at from thousands of feet above the battlefield. Through their headsets, those in the rear can also direct the FLIR Valley to see the kind of work the FLIR 'Herks' can undertake.
"We fly the FLIR C-130s at 10,000- /5,000ft [3,048- 4,572m] and we can track a single person. It's a safe height but if we need to go lower we have to gain clearance," explained one of the aircrew.
"Once the army has the intelligence, it provides us the rough co-ordinates so we can have a closer look. We fly to the area and scan the targets, enabling us to provide the intel guys with exact co-ordinates. The bad people generally move at night, so we tend to fly at medium level over the area of their compound, scan their movements, take co-ordinates and pass them to the army. Knowing what the place looks like helps the army should they decide to attack," he added.
GPS is integrated into the FLIR, so it can focus with rough co-ordinates on the area of interest in the vicinity of the Hercules' position. The FUR can then be zoomed-in allowing the operator to illuminate the exact target to pick precise co-ordinates that can then be relayed to various intelligence agencies.
The PAF's FLIR-equipped C-/30Bs are known to fly along the Afghan border, checking for hostiles moving in and out of Pakistan.
In early January 2009, the PAF took delivery of its DB-110 systems and almost immediately put them on F-16 aircraft to carry out integration and acceptance trials.
A PAF DB-110 expert explained: "We are using them regularly— for battle damage assessment and mapping which provide us with latest time intelligence of value (LTIoV). We are about to get a capability enhancement, while Royal Air Force personnel have been here sharing their experience of their (DB-110-based) RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Air Pod for Tornado) system and showing us ways of exploiting the system even further so we can get more out of it. They have even designed a special course for the PAF"
According to Goodrich, the DB-110 provides real-time high-quality imagery intelligence from stand-off to close-in range to the target, enabling aircrew and imagery analysts to verify targets and conduct mission-related tasks such as battle damage assessment.
The 08-110 sensor can be operated autonomously by the pod's reconnaissance management system or can be used interactively with aircrew input for new task-entry and target-of-opportunity imaging. During bombing missions, pilots are selected from different squadrons to ensure experience and expertise is spread throughout the force. Designated squadrons are responsible for training pilots in the close air support role.
A huge air-to-ground firing range is used to practise high-altitude steep dive-angle bombing manoeuvres, with the new pilots also flying a couple of missions in the rear seat to get a feel of the situation.
1. C-130B 3751 sits on the ramp being prepared for a mission.
TACTICAL UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE
According to SELEX Galileo, the Falco TUAV is capable of supplying command and control centres with a tactical overview of the operational scenario and target cueing in real time.
SELEX claims that the Falco is suitable for 24/7 all-weather persistent surveillance, target detection, identification and designation. The company specifies Falco with a redundant and fault-tolerant architecture and automatic short-take-off ability from semi-prepared airstrips, perfect for PAP operations.
Payloads can include electro-optical/infrared, synthetic aperture radar, maritime surveillance radar, electronic support measures, self- protection equipment and hyperspectral sensors.
Length: 5.25m (17ft 2in)
Wing span: 7.20m (23ft 7/n)
Height: 1.80m (5ft 1 lin)
Maximum take-off weight:
Endurance: 8-14 hours
Max payload weight:
Ceiling: 5,000m (16,400ft)
Max airspeed: 60m/s
Link range: 200km (124 miles)
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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:07 PM
-=-=-=-=Faith, Unity, Discipline-=-=-=-=
Kashmir is the jugular Vein of Pakistan and no nation
or country would tolerate its jugular vein remains
under the sword of the enemy. -Muhammed Ali Jinnah
These eye's do not wander in lust, for my
queen of hearts has graced them with love.
"We gave our today for your tommorrow ".
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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:08 PM
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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:16 PM
Edited by Magnus, 22 February 2013 - 01:44 PM.
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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:05 AM
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Posted 06 March 2013 - 01:52 PM
........ the Black Flags Army shall rise from Khurasan and commence its earth rumbling march toward Damishque. Any force that tries to come in its path, shall be destroyed with ruthless destruction. Awaiting, upon reaching Damishque, the safron and beads of pearls and the Black Turban that shall lead the Salah of Fajr .........
........ the stones and trees of Lud shall cry out to the Black Flags and tell them of the Munafiqs, Yahuds and Kuffar that are hiding behind them, to come and kill them. That day shall be the day of reckoning, the day of justice, the day when no power shall hold and unfair advantage. The battle shall be fought and won by way of faith ........
........ it shall be done, as it is said "Kun Faya Koon
By, Mujahid Hosein (son of Imran Hosein)
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Posted 08 March 2013 - 12:55 AM
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Posted 08 March 2013 - 12:56 AM
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Posted 08 March 2013 - 12:19 PM
Can't see the pictures. Please help
1. Click on the Link which Magnus has posted, the one that says "Download"
2. When the page opens, you will see two tachometers; click on the link which says "Regular" download
3. A 60 second timer starts, wait for it to go sown to 0 and an icon will appear - Download File
4. Click on the icon
5. File will begin downloading, wait patiently
6. Open the file, and then click on 'file' top left corner
7. Click on save As > Pdf
It's like the commercial ILS systems that these jets don't have
Edited by Felicius, 08 March 2013 - 12:20 PM.
Napoleon Bonaparte: The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people!
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