By lex, on June 6th, 2011
A Pakistani Air Force F-16 pilot on exchange with the Turkish Air Force gives some interesting insights into the PAF’s procurement and tactical strategies: *
Q 16: Any memorable experiences that you would like to share?
A: On one occasion – in one of the international Anatolian Eagles – PAF pilots were pitted against RAF Typhoons, a formidable aircraft. There were three set-ups and in all three, we shot down the Typhoons. The RAF pilots were shocked.
Q 17: Any particular reason for your success?
A: NATO pilots are not that proficient in close-in air-to-air combat. They are trained for BVR engagements and their tactics are based on BVR engagements. These were close-in air combat exercises and we had the upper hand because close-in air combat is drilled into every PAF pilot and this is something we are very good at.
An interesting comment indeed.
Back in the early part of the last decade, I had the opportunity to go ashore in Kuwait to serves as the officer-in-charge of an eight-ship training detachment with the Kuwait Air Force. The Kuwaits had FA-18Cs with enhanced performance engines that were more powerful than those we flew in my air wing. They customarily flew their fighters “slick”, without external fuel tanks or weapons pylons. And they were really quite good at 1v1 basic fighter maneuvers.
But basic fighter maneuvers are, well: Basic. And their competency working together as a two-ship was – in my opinion – below the US Navy standard. Their four-ship tactics and execution was a total mess.
One v one maneuvering is a lot of fun, but single combat, as one of my first FA-18 instructor pilots told me in an attempt to tamp my ardent enthusiasm for the mission, was the unlikely and undesired result of a blown intercept: Rarely does one find an actual adversary content to place himself a mile and a half abeam, co-altitude and co-speed, awaiting a “fights on” call on the shared frequency.
One v. one maneuvering is intensely physical, partly reactionary and – to the well trained and proficient fighter pilot – nearly instinctual. Multi-ship engagements require cool analytical skills, informed leadership and rigorous flight discipline. Employ your four-ship effectively, and have supportive wingmen who understand and execute the mission, and in-close maneuvering consists of little more than the mopping up of overwhelmed, outnumbered and demoralized survivors.
One v. one gives you street credibility in the ready room. Multi-ship proficiency wins air wars.
I wonder if the PAF, like their 2000-era Kuwaiti counterparts, are focusing their efforts appropriately.
Read the whole thing, if you’d like. There are some interesting observations on the Block 52 F-16s Pakistan has been cleared to receive from the US, including some operational restrictions on their use and consent to monitoring.
** Editor Original link gone